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1701—17 90. 



^14 5 
At gV* 

Entbrbd, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, 
'lark's Office of the District Court of the United States for Rhode Island. 


CHAPTER XIII. 1701—1713. 


From the death of Lord Bellemont, March, 1701, to the close of Queen 

Anne's war, April, 1713, ...... 1 

Appendix H. — Admiralty Act of Rhode Island passed January 1694-5, 48 

CHAPTER XIV. 1713—1727. 

From the Peace of Utrecht, April, 1713, to the Death of Governor Sam- 
uel Cranston, April, 1727, . . . . . . 50 

Appendix I. — The Palatine Light, ..... 88 

CHAPTER XV. 1727—1739. 

From the Accession of George II., 1727, to the close of the peaceful 

period in 1739, ....... 92 

CHAPTER XVI. 1739—1746. 

From the commencement of the second Spanish War, October, 1739, to 

the final adjustment of the Eastern Boundary, February, 1747, . 122 

CHAPTER XVII. 1747—1762. 

From the annexation of the Eastern Towns, February, 1747, to the close 

of the " old French," or Fourth Intercolonial war, February, 1763, 168 

CHAPTER XVIII. 1763—1768. 

From the Peace of Paris, February 10, 1763, to the close of the "Ward 

and Hopkins Controversy, April, 1768, .... 243 





Appendix J. — Instructions to the Commissioners of Rhode Island in the 

Congress of 1765, held at New York, .... 284 
Appendix K. — Resolutions of Rights and Privileges, September, 1765, 286 

CHAPTER XTX. 1768—1772. 

From the Union of Parties for Resistance to England, April, 1768, to 

the Destruction of His Majesty's Schotmer Gfispee, June 10, 1772, 287 
Appendix L. — Col. Bowen's Account of the Gaspee affair, . . 318 

CHAPTER XX. 1772—1776. " 

From the Capture of the Gaspee, June, 1772, to the Close of the Colo- 
nial Period, May 4, 1776, . . . . . .321 

CHAPTER XXI. 1776—1778. 

From the Act of Independence, May 4, 1776, to the Battle on Rhode- 
island, August 29, 1778, . . . . . .377 

CHAPTER XXII. 1778—1781. 

From the Retreat from Rhode-island by General Sullivan, August 30, 
1778, to the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 
19, 1781, 430 

CHAPTER XXIII. 1781—1786. 

From the Surrender of Cornwallis, October 19, 1781, to the Rise of the 

Paper Money Party in Rhode Island, May, 1786, . . 478 

CHAPTER XXIV. 1786—1790. 

From the Accession of the Paper Money Party, May 3, 1786, to the 

Adoption of the Constitution of the United States, May 29, 1790, 520 
Appendix M. — A List of the Cliief Maiiistrates of Rhode Island, . 564 
Appendix N. — A List of the Deputy-Governors of Rhode Island, . 566 
Appendix O.— William Blackstone, . . , . . 568 

Appendix P. — Battle of Rhode Island, . • • 571 





Although the death of the Earl of Bellemont occurred cHAP. 
at a fortunate moment for Khode Island, we shall soon see 
that it did not restore peace to the colony. His successor 1701. 
pursued the same line of policy with even greater pertina- March 
city but with less ability, and met with a defeat the more 
humiliating as his measures were more personal and 
direct. A special session of the General Assembly was 29 
held shortly after this event, to lay a tax of four hundred 
pounds for the public service. The apportionment indi- 
cates that Providence had recovered its relative prosperity, 
lost during Philip's war. The duties which in our day 
are performed by the State Auditor, were formerly assign- 
ed to committees, the members of which were usually se- 
lected, one from each town, by the Assembly. This 
" general audit," as it was termed, was appointed as often 
VOL. II. — 37. 



CHAP, as the accounts of tlie colony required examination, or a 
new tax was to be laid. 

l^fjl The right of the Assembly to expel any of its mem- 
bers, was never exercised except in extreme cases. At 
this session, an assistant who had illegally united a couple 
in marriage, through misapprehension of his power to per- 
form that ceremony, refusing to admit his error, was sus- 
pended from office until the next election. 

April Soon after the Assembly rose. Gov. Cranston wrote 
1^- t ) the Board of Trade, and, by their order, sent a full 
statement of the modes of proceeding in the various 
Courts of Khode Island. This paper gives a clear view 
of the structure of the Courts, and of the legal forms in 
use at that day in the colony.' 

An act which would have proved fatal to the liberties 
of Hhode Island and Connecticut, had it passed, was now 
prepared in pai'liament by the enemies of these charter 
Governments, chief of whom was Col. Joseph Dudley, 
Governor of Massachusetts. This man had been Govern- 
or of Massachusetts prior to the accession of Sir Edmund 
Andros, by whom he was made Chief Justice of New 
England. After the fall of Andros, he attempted to re- 
gain his former position with the intention of including 
all New England, but was forestalled by Bellemont. The 
new act proposed a direct reunion to the crown of all the 
American Governments, whether chartered, proprietary, 
or provincial, including the Bahama Islands. Its intend- 
ed effect was to erect a great vice-royalty in America, 
more comprehensive tlian the government of Andros had 
been, while the local affairs of each Government were to 
be administered by its own Colonial Assembly. The 
irregularities in respect to trade and piracy, with the con- 
sequent injury to the revenue of the kingdom, were the 
reasons assigned for the movement. The bill was prepar- 
ed near the close of the reign of William III. It was 

* Original in Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. 6. 



stoutly opposed by Sir Henry Ashurst, agent of Connec- chap. 
ticut, who obtained a hearing at the bar of the House of 
Commons against it. So cogent were tlie arguments of 170 1. 
its opponents, and so successful the efforts of the friends 
of the colonists, that when the bill was afterward brought 
up early in the reign of Queen Anne, it was defeated, and 
this scheme, begotten by the ability of Bellemont and the 
ambition of Dudley, fell to the ground.' 

At the general election, Governor Cranston, and 7. 
Deputy-Governor Clarke, were re-elected. Thirteen jus- 
tices of the peace were chosen. This is the first time that 
the names of these officers are reported in connection with 
the other general officers of the colony. The salary of the 
Governor was raised to forty pounds a year, besides 
which, almost every year considerable additional gratui- 
ties were voted for his benefit. Measures were taken for 
a thorough reorganization of the militia. The law of 
marriage was revised. Notice of the intention was to be 
set up in some public place for fourteen days, by consent 
of a magistrate. Persons coming from other colonies were 
required to produce a certificate that they had there con- 
formed to the publication laws. Fine and suspension from 
office were the penalties for any violation of this law by 
a magistrate, and fine, imprisonment, or whipping were 
the punishments for the principals who should disregai'd 
it. A bill to sustain the governor in enforcing the navi- 
gation act was passed. It required all ship-masters to 
enter at the collector's office before breaking bulk ; to re- 
port their passengers, and to obtain permits for shipping 
seamen belonging to the colony ;'that none but the regu- 
lar boarding officers should approach any vessel off the 
port without leave from the governor, or two assistants ; 
that the governor should establish a naval office, the fees 
of which were to be stated by the general council ; that 

' The act is found in Antiquities of Connt., pp. 299 — 304 ; see Trum- 
bulFs Hist. eh. xvii. 



CHAP, foreign traders, residing for one niontli in the colony, should 
^^^^ be subject to taxation as other inhabitants ; that theconi- 
1701. mander of the fort, to be appointed by the governor, should 
have power to bring to any inward bound vessel by the 
usual modes ; and that the tonnage law^, enacted ten years 
before, should remain in force. This was the most com- 
plete act which had ever been passed upon the subject. 
It was one that was fraught with infinite peril to the in- 
ward peace, and the outward welfare of the colony. The 
dangers that threatened from the home government, led 
the people to acquiesce in a measure to which they w^ere 
naturally averse. 

The stanch loyalty of the Westerly men, continued to 
subject them to annoyances from their neighbors. Two 
of their officers were taken prisoners, and carried to Con- 
necticut. Their cause Avas assumed by the Assembly, who 
voted to defray their expenses and to send them requisite 

June Additional powers were now conferred upon Dudley, 
28. already appointed Governor of Massachusetts and New 
Hampshire. He was made Yice-Admiral of those places, 
and also of Rhode Island, and King's Province, and orders 
were issued to hasten his departure for America. This 
enlargement of his })Owers soon caused much trouble to 
Ehode Island, and great annoyance to himself.' 

Sept. The hostile acts of Connecticut in seizing the people 
of Westerly, led Mr. Brenton to memorialize the Board 
of Trade on the subject, asking an adjudication of tliecon- 

Oct 9 ti-oversy.^ The General Assembly appointed a committee 
to treat with Rhode Island. These attempts, although 
often renewed, had thus far proved abortive for want of 
a common ground upon which the disputants could agree 
as a starting point for negotiation. 

1701-2 On the last day of the year, at a special session of the 

■^24^^^ Assembly, a tax of two hundred pounds was laid, and the 

* Br. S. P. 0. New England, vol. xi. ^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. vi. 



sedition act was repealed. Tlie population of the whole CIIAP. 
colony at this time, was estimated at ten thousand souls, 
exclusive of Indians. The apportionment of the new tax 1702. 
among the towns, was not made till after the election of ^' 
another Assembly, when a further tax of three hundred 
pounds w^as made. 

The Westquanoid purchase had been made from the 
Indians forty years before, by some Providence men. It 
embraced the lands south of the north branch of the 
Paw^tuxet River. The proprietors petitioned to be erect- 
ed into a township, l)ut although leave w^as granted them 
provisionally, the plan was never carried out. 

The Recorder of the colony w-as forbidden to practise 
as an attorney, except in his own case or that of the town 
or colony. A vagrant act was passed at this session, for- 
bidding the harboring of strangers coming from other 
colonies ; deserters from the King's service ; or passen- 
gers brought by sea and landed without consent of the 
authorities. Heavy penalties were imposed for any viola- 
tion of this law\ A jail w^as ordered to be built at ^ew- 
port. Much attention was bestowed upon fortifications. 
The King's fort was inadequate to the defence of the har- 
bor. A new fort, afterw^ards called Queen Anne's, to mount 
twelve guns, was ordered to be built. The governor and 
council were authorized to purchase tlie battery and stores 
necessary to complete it. The proceeds of all forfeitures, 
belonging to the general treasury, especially the gold 
plate and money taken from convicted pirates, w^ere appro- 
priated to this purpose. The fort was built upon Goat 
Island, upon the same place where fort Woolcot now 
stands. The first battery erected at Newj^ort was close 
to the Avater, in front of Governor Arnold's house, near 
the spot now occupied by the Union Bank.' Tliese Avere 
timely preparations, for in Europe the alarm of war had 
already broken the peace of Rysw^ick. That short-lived 

' Bull's Memoirs. 


€HAP. treaty of only four years, was ended by the war of the 
J^^^ Spanish succession, which gave rise to the national debt 
1702. of England. AVhile the Assembly were arming the colony, 
May 7. ig^^-gi-g announcing the Queen's declaration of war against 
June ^^^^ Spain were issued.^ Upon their reception, 

25. hostilities were proclaimed, according to custom, in each 
town of the colony, and active measures were taken. 
July r^i^Q brigantine Greyhound, of one hundred tons, mount- 
ing twelve guns, and manned with one hundred men and 
boys, was fitted for sea and placed in command of Capt. 
William Wanton, a shipwright of Portsmouth, with a 
j)rivateer commission to cruise for five months. His 
instructions limited his operations within the Banks of 
Xewfoundland on the east, and the thirtieth parallel of 
north latitude on the south, and were directed against 
French and Spanish vessels or piratical craft. He gave 
bonds in the sum of one thousand pounds for the faithful 
discharge of his trust, and to return to port within two 

The usual delay in collecting the tax, caused the Gen- 
eral Assembly to adopt stringent measures to enforce its 
'^2q' P^y^^^^^t- Mr. Brenton returned home at this time, leav- 
ing the colony without an agent in England. 

Governor Dudley, soon after his arrival, visited the 
eastern portions of his government as far as Pemaquid 
during the summer, and then turned his attention to 
Rhode Island, as being included in his Yice- Admiralty 
jurisdiction. Accompanied by Lieutenant-Governor Povey, 
with six of his council and an escort of troops, he came to 
Newport and had an interview with Governor Cranston 
Sept. and his council, at w^hicli Dudley's connnissions as com- 
mander of the militia during war, and as Yice-Admiral 
of Rhode Island were read, and the oaths therein required 


^ May 4, 1702, the war was declared. 
The commission, i^nstructions and bond are found in Br. S. P. 0. Pro- 
prieties, vol. vii. 



were, at liis request, adininistered to liiiii. The next day CIIAP. 
Dudley demanded, l)y virtue of his military commission, 
tliat the tro()i)s of the colony, estimated at two tliousand 1702. 
men, should he placed under his orders. The militia ^^l'^- 
clause of tlu; charter was read to him, and it was urged 
that the power therein (*onferred upon the civil authorities 
of the colony, was paramount to that conveyed in Dud- 
ley's commission. Governor Cranston held that he could 
not comply with the demand until the matter was laid 
before the General Assembly. Dudley replied that he 
had nothing to do with any assembly but only with the 
governor and council, and directed Major Martindale, of 
the Island regiment, to order out his troops the next 
morning. At Cranston's request copies of Dudley's com- 
missions were entered upon the book of records. The 
companies did not a])})ear under arms as required, but the 5. 
Major informed Dudley that he could not call out his 
men without orders from the Assembly or from the gov- 
ernor. Disgusted at tliis repulse, Dudley left the island 
at noon, and went to Bristol. On Monday he, with his 
suite, crossed over to Narragansett, where he was respect- 
fully received. Capt. Eldredge's company appeared un- ^' 
(k'r arms. The commissions were read, and the oaths 
taken as at T^ewport, after which the oath of allegiance 
was administered by Dudley to the soldiers, and cheer- 
fully taken. 

In consequence of these proceedings, a special session 
of the Assembly was called, at which the firm stand taken 
by the governor was approved, a committee to memorial- 
ize the home government in defence- of the militia powers 
conferred by the charter was appointed, an answer to this 
effect was sent to Dudley, and measures were taken to 
send an agent to England upon this vital subject. Dud- 
ley's letter to the Board of Trade, enclosing the journal 
of his visit to Rhode Island, denounces the government 
of the colony in bitter terms, which the reply he received 
from the General Assembly was not calculated to soften. 


CHAP. Thej urged the militia clause of the charter and the con- 
XIII -> 

hrniation thereof by William and Mary, after the fruitless 
1702. attempt of Sir AVillliam Phipps, ten years before, to as- 
^^P** sume the connnand of the Rhode Island troops, and noti- 
fied him of their intention to appeal to the Queen.' 

Some time durhig this year, the Puritan Church, fol- 
lowing the Baptist, Quaker, and Episcopal Churches, 
obtained a permanent foothold in the colony. A Congre- 
gational Society already existed in Newport, and six years 
prior to this had erected a meeting house, where the Rev. 
Kathaniel Clapp officiated ; but it was not till 1720 that a 
church was gathered, and Mr. Clapp was ordained as the 
pastor.^ Another Congregational Society Avas now formed 
in Kingston, who obtained the Rev. Samuel Kiles to 
l^reach for them, which he did fur eight years.' These were 
the earliest churches of this order in Rhode Island, except 
that which the founders of Aquedneck l)rought with them, 
and which appears to have survived but a few years." 

The death of AVilliam III., and the accession of Queen 
Ann, gave occasion for a formal address on that subject, 
in which condolence and congratulation are curiously 
29- mingled. A few days later, another address upon the all- 
important subject of their chartered powers was sent to 

' Br. S. P. 0. New England, vol. xi. ; R. I. Col. Rec. iii., 459—63, 
Elton's Callender, 119. 

^ Niles' deposition in the suit about the Church lands in Narragansett. 
Mr. Niles was born at Block Island, 16*74, and graduated at Harvard, 1699, 
being the first student from Rhode Island who ever entered that college. 
In 1702, before he had been ordained, he was called to the pastoral charge 
of the Congregational "or Presbyterian" Society at Kingstown, where he 
remained till 1710, and soon after, in May, 1711, was ordained and settled 
over the church at Braintree. He afterwards returned to Rhode Island 
and became pastor of a church in Charlestown, composed chiefly of Indians. 
He died in 1762. He was the author of several published works mentioned 
by Mr. Updike in Hist, of the Narrt. Church, p. 36. That by which he is 
best known is a History of the French and Indian wars, written in 1760, 
and partly published from the original MS. long after his death, by the Mass. 
Hist. Society in 3 M. H. C, vol. vi. 

* See Vol. I., chap, v., pp. 139, 140. 



the Queen. Capt. Wanton liad returned, after a two CIIAP. 
montlis' cruise in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, crowned with 
"I)rilliant success, lie captured and brouglit into i)ort three 1702. 
French ships, one of tlieni a privateer of two hundred and 
sixty tons, carrying twenty guns and forty-eiglit men, 
anotlier was a vessel of three hundred tons, with sixteen 
guns, and the third was of one hundred and sixty tons, 
mounting eight guns. They were loaded with dried fish. 
Dudley attempted to interfere with the proceedings of the 
Admiralty Court, long since estahlished at New^port, in 
the condemnation of the prizes, threatening to confiscate 
the pro2:)erty and to treat the captors as pirates, if they 
did not accede to the demands which he, as Yice-Admi- 
ral, sought to impose upon them. He attempted to sup- 
plant the existing Court of Admiralty by one of his own 
creation, and to deny the validity of the commission issued 
to AVanton. The effect of this conduct was favorable to 
Ehode Island, for it was a wa^ong so great that it served 
to cover the many cases of previous irregularity wherein 
she w^as actually culpable. Dudley overshot his mark by 
this impolitic procedure, and by excess of zeal cancelled 
the injuiy he sought to produce. The address to the 
Queen recited in full the militia clause of the charter, 
stated the proceedings in regard to the Greyhound, and 
the conduct of Dudley in both of tliese matters, set forth 
tlie exposed condition of the colony, and humbly solicited 
a confirmation of the patent. It was one of the eras, per- 
haps the turning point, in the history of Ehode Island, 
when after so many attacks upon her, and so much foun- 
dation in her own conduct for the charges of her enemies, 
the current began to change in her favor through the in- 
creased rashness of her accusers, and the greater caution of 
her rulers. Just at this critical moment, when her agent, 
Mr. Brenton, liad returned home, and a new one had not 
yet been sent out, William Penn, then high in favor at 
the Court of Queen Anne, was charged with the interests 
of the infant State, where many of his own principles were 


CHAP, SO deservedly popular. The two addresses to the throne 
Avere enclosed to the Earl of Nottingliani, asking his iu- 

1702. tercession with her Majesty in behalf of tlie colony, and 
his advice and assistance for Penn as the tenij^orary agent 
of lihode Island.' 

Oct. 8. A more successful effort was now made to adjust the 
long-pending dispute on the western border. The Gen- 
eral Assembly of Connecticut aj^pointed a committee of 
live, any tliree of whom were authorized to settle the 
difficulty witli Rliode Island, with no other limitation of 
their powers than that the foui'th article of the agreement 
between Clark and Wintlirop, which secured the right of 
property to the owners, should be respected. This was a 
great concession compared with the instructions to pre- 
vious committees who had always been forbidden to sur- 
render any territory claimed by Connecticut, and were 
thus cut off from the possibility of adjustment or of com- 
promise. A sincere desire to terminate this unhappy 
quarrel now actuated the government of Connecticut, and 
was met with a similar feeling on the part of Khode 
28, Island. The Assembly at Providence a])pointed five 
commissioners'' to meet with tliose named by Connecticut, 
and instructed the governor to commission them accord- 

Nov. The ambitious designs of Dudley w^ere so far success- 
ful, that the Board of Trade recommended him to be a[)- 
pointed Governor of Rhode Island, citing in justitication 
tlie report of the law officers of the crown, eight years 
before, that in case of emergency the royal authority 

^ The originals of these three papers are in Br, S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. 7. 

^ Capt. Joseph Sheffield, Major Henry Tew, Major John Dexter, Randal 
Holden, and Weston Clarke. 

^ The records of the Oct. session, 1702, held at Providence have disap- 
peared from the files of the Secretary's office, and do not appear in the 
printed Colonial Records, Certified copies of the act appointing the com- 
missioners, and of the commissions and instructions issued to them by the 
governor on the 6th of April following, are found in the Br, S. P. 0. Pro- 
prieties, vol. xi. 



might be exercised for the repeal of j)roprietary or char- CHAP, 
tered privileges/ Fortunately for the colony, the advice J^^^ 
Was not adopted by the Queen's council. The indiscre- 1702. 
tions of Dudley, and the powerful influence of Penn, no 
doubt combined to avert so grave a disaster, and to pre- 
serve the charter of Rhode Island intact. It was deemed 
important that a special agent should be sent to defend 
the colony at the English Court, and Capt. Joseph Shef- 1702-3 
field, who had before been selected for that trust, was ^' 
again appointed by the Assembly A tax of six hundred 
pounds was ordered to defray the expenses of the mission, 
but several deputies protested against it, so that it was 
never collected ; and the agency itself was abandoned 
upon further news from England seeming to render it un- 
necessary. At the same session a further tax of live hun- 
dred pounds was assessed to pay for the fort and jail pre- 
viously ordered. The commutation rate allowed two and 
threepence a bushel for corn, two shillings for barley, 
four for wheat, two and fourpence for rye, fourteen 
pence for oats, ninepence a i^ound for wool. 

Lord Cornberry, Governor of New York, demanded 1 7 0 8. 
aid from Khode Island for the war against the French and 
Indians. The usual excuse, a most valiel one, was given 
for refusing it ; the exposed condition of this colony made 
the utmost efforts of the people inadequate even for their 
own protection. Upon hearing of the first victories of the 
Duke of Marlborough against the French in Holland, April 
Governor Cranston, by the Queen's order, issued a proc- 
lamation for a day of thanksgiving to be kept on tlie 
fifteenth of April, which was duly observed with salutes 
and illuminations throughout the colony. 

Wolves were not yet exterminated. The Assembly at 
an adjourned session offered a premium of twenty shil- 6. 
lings a head for every wolf that should be killed. 

The Assembly, as usual, convened the day previous to May 3. 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. 28, p. 244. 



CHAP, election, for organization and for the admission of free- 
ii^en. There was no cliange in general officers. Tlie 

1703. coniniissioners of Rhode Island and Connecticut met at 
'l2f Stonington, and agreed upon a line between the two col- 
onies, which twentj-three years later was confirmed by 
the King. It varied but little from that claimed by 
Rhode Island imder the charter, and remains to this day 
the boundary line between the two States. Tlius, after 
forty years of strife, this useless and costly controversy 
was in effect determined by mutual agreement, and the 
long-disputed jurisdiction of Narraganset was conceded 
to Rhode Ishmd by lier opponents as it had been by Win- 
throp in the arbitration with Clarke. It is to the firmness 
of the men of Westerly, in every stage of this protracted 
conflict, that the State owes this favoral)le result, for liad 
they succumbed to tlieir more powerful neiglibors, the 
feeble government of Rhode Island could never have com- 
pelled their allegiance against the superior strength of 
Connecticut. This amicable adjustment was virtually a 
final one, although so long a period elapsed before its con- 
firmation. It removed the most serious source of domes- 
tic difficulty, and enabled the colony to develop its real 
strength more rapidly than it had hitherto doub. Except 
the obtaining of the two charters, it was the most impor- 
tant event in tlie history of the State up to that time.' On 
account of this meeting of commissioners, the Assembly 

June adjourned till June, when the proceedings were approved, 
and the commissions and agreement were entered upon 
the records. Surveyors^ were appointed to run the line 
in accordance with the report. A division of the colony 
into two counties w^as made. The islands formed Rhode 
Island county with Newport as the shire town. The 

^ The agreement is printed in Potter's Narraganset R. I. H. C, iii. 204, 
and R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 474, from the original A certified copy in Br. S. P. 0. 
Proprieties, vol. xi., gives the date as May 20, a difference of eight days. 
The true date is probably the 12th as above given. / 

James Carder, of Warwick, and John Mumford, of Newport. 



mainland formed the county of Providence Plantations, chap. 
of Avhicli Providence was the shire town. Two Courts of J^^"^ 
Common Pleas were appointed to be held yearly in eacli 170:3. 
county ; the lirst year at Providence and Warwick, the J""^ 
next at Kingstown and Westerly, for Providence county ; 
tliose for Rhode Island county were held at Newport. 

The exposed condition of New York and Massachu- 
setts from the French and Indians, led the Board of Trade 
to require that aid should be furnished them by Phode 
Ishmd and Connecticut. The perils of an extended sea- 
board required all the efforts of these colonies to repel in- 
vasion by the enemies' ships, and were not properly con- 
sidered by the home government ; while their failure to 
comply with the demand of Dudley on one side, and of 
Cornberry on the other, gave these enemies of all char- 
tered rights constant occasion to renew their attacks. 
This led the Assembly to apply to the Board of Trade, for 30. 
a copy of the charges against Rhode Island, and for an 
opportunity to defend their conduct. 

At the autumn session, held in Warwick, the highways 
in Kingstowm, recently laid out, were received and con- 
firmed. The power of each house to decide upon the right 
of a member to his seat was not then recognized. A 
doubt existing as to the qualifications of one of the depu- 
ties, the two houses met in grand committee to debate 
the question, and it was decided in favor of the claimant 
by a majority vote. 

The boldness of Rhode Island in assuming admiralty 
jurisdiction was one of the chief points upon which her 
enemies relied to accomplish their designs. The Board 
of Trade, at the instigation of Dudley, applied to the at- Dec. 2. 
torney-general for his opinion w^hether her conduct in ex- 
ercising that power, by the act of 1694, did not furnish 
sufficient cause for a repeal of the charter. The attorney 
replied that the act in question was certainly a stretch of 24. 
power, but as it was limited in its terms, " until his 
Majesty's pleasure be further known," it did not warrant 



CHAP. ^ forfeiture of tlie charter, but he advised that notice 
^I^I- should be sent to the colony to repeal the act forthwith, 
1703-4 upon penalty of prosecution.' 

Jan. Tl^y Board of Trade addressed the Queen in accordance 
with this advice, and urged that Dudley's authority should 
be extended over Khode Island. This most indefatigable 
enemy was absorbed in the desire to extend his govern- 
ment over all New England in utter disregard to char- 
tered rights, or to any other consideration beyond his own 
Jan. sellish ends. An order was issued by the royal council, 
28. annulling the admiralty act, and directing notice thereof 
to be sent to Khode Island. The Queen's letter w^as pre- 
Feb. pared accordingly, to be sent to the governor and council,- 
1^- placing all admiralty matters in charge of Governor Dud- 
Mar, ley? as Vice- Admiral of New England.'' This was for- 
1*^- warded to Governor Dudley with a letter from the Board 
to Rhode Island, and soon after another royal letter was 
23 written, censuring the colony for not furnishing the re- 
quired aid to Massachusetts.' 
Jan 4 Meanwhile, the General Assembly held a special ses- 
sion at Newport. Captive Indians taken at the eastward, 
Avhere Col. Church was prosecuting the war with vigor, 
were brought into the colony for sale. This was forbid- 
den under a heavy penalty, and those already brought in 
were required to be sent out. A tax of five hundred 
pounds was laid for the support of government. An act 
was passed for raising twelve scouts to be employed on 
military service during the w^ar, under orders from the two 
Majors. The tenths of the prizes taken by Capt. Wanton, 

* Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. xxviii., p. 38*7, and vol. vii. of the same. 
Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. xxviii., p. 439. The admiralty act about 
which so much clamor was made was framed by the governor and council of 
R. I. and confirmed by the General Assembly, January 'T, 1694-5. The re- 
cords of that period are lost, but a copy of the obnoxious statute is found 
in the British State Paper Office enclosed with the opinion, above referred 
to, of the attorney-general thereupon. See App. H. 

2 Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. xxviii., pp. 471, 480. 



due to the crown, were appropriated to anri tlie forts, CHAP, 
pending the result of a petition for that purpose already ^J^**^ 
sent to the Queen. All Indians and negroes were forbid- 1704. 
den to walk the streets of JS^ewport after nine o'clock at 
night without a pass, and no housekeeper was allowed to 
entertain them after that hour. The laws had often been 
revised but never yet printed. A committee was appoint- 
ed to put them to press as soon as a new revision could be 
completed, but manj years elapsed before this vote was 
carried into effect. 

Many Rhode Island troops volunteered under Col. May 3. 
Church for the war against the French and the Indians. 
To defray their expenses another tax of seven hundred 
pounds was made l)y the new (leneral Assembly, and the 
assessors were empowered to administer an engagement, 
or oath, to every tax-payer, that the list he presented of 
his ratable estate was correct. The island of Conanicut 
was surveyed at this time, the highways laid out, and 
farms platted, and the surveyors' report placed upon 
record. The pay of the soldiers at the fort was fixed at 
twelve pounds a year, w^ith rations, and that of the scouts 
at three shillings a day while on duty. 

The great battle of Blenheim gave occasion for another Aug. 
day of thanksgiving, which was ordered by a circular ^* 
letter to all the colonies from the Board of Trade. 25. 

The serious charges in respect to the admiralty act, Sept. 
which led to its being annulled, were answered at great 
length by Rhode Island. The act seemed to be one of 
necessity when it was passed ; a valuable French prize 
having been brought into Newport and no power there 
existing by which it could be legally condemned. Copies 
of the captain's petition upon the subject, and of all the 
papers pertaining thereto, were sent to England. The 
excuse for resisting the demands of the governors of Mas- 
sachusetts on this subject was a valid one, Rhode Island 
not being named in their commissions, and the conduct 
of that colony in times past having been such that any 



CHAP, claim from that source to power over Rhode Ishxnd was, 
to say the least, suspicious, and aroused a well-grounded 
1704. feeling of jealousy.' 

The October session of the Assembly was held at Provi- 
dence, at which appeal cases were heard. When sitting 
as a Court of Appeals the two branches of the Assembly 
united in grand committee. The propriety of this meas- 
ure will not be questioned when it is remembered that the 
governor and council, or upper house, at this time composed 
the Supreme Court, or General Court of Trials, as it was 
termed, and continued so to do till the creation of a judi- 
cial branch of the government forty-three years later. 

The opinion of the law officers of the crown, given 
upon a representation of the Board of Trade, instigated 
by Dudley and Lord Cornberry, that a governor might 
be appointed over the chartered colonies of Connecticut 
and Rhode Island, was sent to the Queen ; whereupon an 
Kov. order was issued for the agents of these colonies to ai)])ear 
within two weeks and show cause, if they had any, why 
this course should not be adopted. On the appointed 
30. day, Sir Henry Ashurst petitioned for a postponement, 
wliich was granted tor two weeks longer. Meanwhile, 
Dec. another delay of three weeks was obtained, and almost 
^1- immediately after this a month more was given to pre- 
14_ pare the defence.^ 

That there was a concerted plan between Dudley and 
Cornberry to break up the chartered colonies adjoining 
their governments, their well-timed measures proved. 
Dudley sent a requisition to Governor Cranston for troops 
to defend Massachusetts against the Indians, while Corn- 
berry called on Connecticut for pecuniary aid in behalf 
Dec. of New York. A special session of the Assembly was con- 
^'^^ vened at ^^ewport. A quorum of both houses were pres- 
ent, but the attendance was not full. Col. Dudley's de- 

* Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii. ; R. I. Col. Rec. iii., 508—510. 
^ Do. do. vol vii. 



maiicls were presented, and the next day an answer was CIIAP. 

made to him that the required aid shoiihl he sent, if pra('- 

ticable, when the Assembly again met at its adjourned 1704. 


session. 28 

The Kev. James Iloneyman was this year sent over, 
by the society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign 
parts, as a missionary to Rhode Island, in compliance 
with petitions from Newport, the eastern shore, and Karra- 
ganset, sent to them and the bishop of London two years 
before, for ministers of the Church of England. He be- 
came the rector of Trinity Church, and also visited the 
three towns on the main, Freetown, Tiverton, and Little 
Compton by turns, on week days, for eight years, until a 
missionary was sent to them. He then had more leisure, 
established a lecture, and preached once a fortnight at 
Portsmouth. His Christian deportment gained him many 
friends, and ensured him a full audience wherever he 
preached. His memory is perpetuated in the name of 
the highest hill on the southern extremity of the island, 
the eastern slope of which Bishop Berkely afterwards 
selected for his home. 

The hearing of the cases of Bhode Island and Connec- 1704 5 
ticut having been postponed from time to time for nearly 
three months, could no longer be deferred. Her Majesty 
and a full council were present. Sir Henry Aslmrst had 
used every means in his power to avert the tlireatened re- 
23eal of the Connecticut charter. He had high connec- 
tions, and great parliamentary influence enlisted on his side, 
and employed two of the ablest lawyers in Parliament to 
argue the cause against the law oflicers of the crown. 
The defence occupied bnt an horn- and a half, and was so 
far successful as to obtain the chief point desired, that 
time should be allowed for the colonies to reply to the ac- 
cusations before final proceedings were taken against them.' 

' A full account of this hearing, derived from the correspondence of Sir 
Henry Ashurst, is given in Trumbull's Hist, of Conn., chap, xvii., pp. 114 — 
VOL. II. — 38. 


CHAP. An order was issued for tlie Board to prepare charges 
against the two cok)nies to be given to their agents to answer 

1704-5 within six months, and copies of the same were to be sent 
to Governor Dudlev and Lord Cornbeny, to collect evi- 
dence in their snpport, and to fnrnish otlier copies to the 
governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut to prepare 
Feb. their defence.' The General Asseml)ly denied the truth 
of Dudley's complaints of their not furnishing aid to Mas- 
sachusetts. Thev had sent one company of volunteers, 
under Church, the preceding summer, notwithstanding 
the heavy taxes assessed for strengthening their own de- 
fences, and they now took measu]*es to enlist the quota of 
forty-eight men assigned to them. A tax of five hundred 
pounds was levied for this purpose upon the already over- 
28. burdened colony. Governor Cranston then informed 
Dudley of what had been done, and requested him to 
appoint commissioners, to meet witli the same number 
selected by the Asseml)ly, to agree upon the mode of dis- 
})0sal and of support for the soldiers.' 

1705. Most of the towns had charters granted them by the 

May 7. General Assembly, l)y wliich they were empowered to 
regulate tlieir local affairs. A similar power was con- 
ferred upon jNTewport by special statute. The Indians at 
Block Island were ordered to be trained for military ser- 
vice, and the quota of troops that were- to be sent to Col. 
Dudley was withdrawn. The first movement towards 
settling the north line of tlie colony, was made at this ses- 
sion upon petition from Providence. The line was de- 
scribed as running north from Pawtucket falls till it meets 
the south boundary of Massachusetts, and thence west to 
the Connecticut line. Gov. Dudley was requested to lay 

418. No mention of the Rhode Island agent is therein made, but we know 
that Penn had been requested to take the agency after the return of Bren- 
ton, and no successor had yet been appointed. The orders in council men- 
tion the presence of agents of both colonies. 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii. ; R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 496. 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii. ; R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 496, 497. 



the matter before his provincial Assembly for them to CIIAP. 
select commissioners to unite with the three appointed by 
Khode Island' to run the line. This appeared to be a very 1705. 
plain case, but was destined, like the other boundary 
questions, to be a source of protracted contest. As Plym- 
outli liad been absorbed by Massachusetts, there were 
now two territorial disputes to be settled between Ehode 
Island and her powerful antagonist. 

Captain John Halsey, of the brigantine Charles, to 
whom Governor Cranston had granted a privateer com- 
mission in Koveniber, arrived at this time, with a valuable June 
Spanish prize taken in the West Indies. He applied to 
Nathaniel Byfield, Judge of Admiralty, to condenm her 
as a law^ful prize. Byfield gave a warrant to discharge 
the cargo, and held a court on the question of condennia- 6. 
tion. It appeared that the commission was granted after 
the receipt of her Majesty's orders annulling the admiralty 
act of 1694, and hence it was declared void, and condem- 
nation was refused. This caused so much excitement, 
that Byfield adjourned the court in order to consult the 
Vice- Admiral. Gov. Cranston addressed a letter to the 16. 
judge, requiring him to condemn the prize, or to give rea- 
sons for his refusal, claiming that the connnission was 
valid under the declaration of war upon which it was 
granted. John Coleman, one of the owners of the Charles, 
and as commissioner of prizes, agent for the Lord High 
Admiral, complained to Dudley of the conduct of Byfield 
in refusing to condemn the prize. Capt. Halsey w^as 
ready for another cruise but could not sail until tliis 
matter was adjusted. The General Assembly -was con- 
vened upon this subject, and also to lay a tax of five hun- 
dred pounds, a portion of which was to pay the tenths of 
prize money due to the Lord High Admiral. An act was 
passed, in reference to the conduct of Byfield, wdiicli for- 
cibly displays the boldness of the people in claiming ad- 

* Major William Hopkins, Joseph Jenckes, and Thomas Olney. 



CHAP, miraltj jurisdiction, in tlie face of tlie recent decree, an- 
nulling their former action upon this point. It declared 

1705. that the governors of the colony, with permission of the 
'^^"^ Assembly, " have had and still have full power and au- 
thority to grant commissions to private men-of-war against 
her Majesty's public enemies ; and that the said governors 
have been and still are justified therein, provided they 
have and do take bond and do all other things as the law 
directs relating to private men of war ; " and in answer to 
the claim of the Judge of Admiralty that the Marshal of 
his court held the power of water bailiff within the colony, 
the Assembly declared that that power vested in this gov- 
ernment alone, by the charter, and by the laws of Eng- 

23. land. The owners of the Charles petitioned Dudley to 
legalize the commission under which they had acted ; 

25. whereupon he ordered Byfield to condenm the prize to 
the captors on the ground that the government of Rhode 
Island would not do justice to her Majesty, and that the 
cargo would be lost if speedy action was not taken. The 
Court of Admiralty was immediately convened, and the 

27. prize was condemned, although in the opinion of tlie 
Judge, the commission under whicli the capture was made 
was illegal. During the proceedings a ]niper was handed 
to the register of the court containing a justification of 
the governor's conduct in granting the commission. 
Byfield would not permit it to be read and adjourned the 
court. A mob followed and insulted him in the streets, 
but no violence was offered to him. This conduct, and 
also the passage of the admiralty act, were attributed by 

Jwly Byfield, in his account of the affair sent to the British 
ministry, with all the documents pertaining thereto, to 
the influence of Coleman, the commissioner of prizes and 
agent of the Lord High Admiral, who was also an owner 
in the Charles. 

Scarcely was this matter disposed of, when Gov. 

25. Cranston received from Dudley a copy of the charges pre- 
pared by the Board of Trade against Bhode Island. Dud- 



ley proceeded at once to collect evidence to sustain thcni. chap. 
All persons who had any cause of discontent with the 
colony were sought out, and their affidavits obtained, to 1705. 
swell the mass of proofs with which her ambitious foe 
expected to crush the charter government of Tihode Island. 
Tlie outrage upon the French settlers some years before, 
was represented with great minuteness by Pierre Ayrault Aug. 
in a remonstrance sent to Gov. Dudley. It was the most 
flagrant case that could be brought against the people, 
but it was one of those acts of border violence with which 
the history of all new countries abound, for which the 
government could not fairly be held responsible. 

A special session of the Assembly was held to reply to 28. 
the charges. The governor and Joseph Sheffield were ap- 
pointed a committee for this purpose, and a tax of one 
thousand pounds was laid to raise funds for the agent in 
England. The charges were contained in tliirteen arti- 
cles, relating to violations of the acts of trade ; to harbor- 
ing deserters ; refusing the quota ; to irregularities in ju- 
dicial proceedings ; to exercising military and admiralty 
powers ; and to a few more trivial matters.^ The answers 
were firm and well drawn, giving a categorical denial to 
the greater portion, and in some cases defending their 
conduct as being warranted by the charter, or by the exi- 
gencies of the times. Dudley was not so prompt in for- 
warding his side of the cpiestion to the ministry. It re- 
quired time to collect all the evidence he desired. He 
sought for it even in New York, where depositions were ggpt. 
taken concerning piracies that occurred several yeai's be- 5 <fe 8. 
fore, and which inculpated the other colonies as much as 
they did Rhode Island. 

The subject of a Court of Chancery was discussed in 
the General Assembly, but as it was one of great im])()r- 
tance, and could not be fully settled at once, it was voted 

^ They were prepared March 26, 1705, and are found in Br. S. V. 0. 
Proprieties, vol. xxix. pp. 133 — 138. See R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 543, and 
Ibid, 546 — 9 for the answers. 



CHAP, tliat the Assembly itself sliould continue to act, as it had 
hitherto done, as a Chancery Court until one could be 

17<'5. properly constituted. The line between Greenwich and 

^'j^* Kingstown was established. The office of Public Notary 
was erected, and the Kecorder was appointed to fill it 
till the next election. 

Nov. At length Dudley, having collected an immense 
^' amount of evidence to sustain the charges against Rhode 
Island, dispatched it to England. It was a truly formida- 
bly array of testimony, well calculated to accomplish the 
selfish purpose of extending his own authority over a 
neighboring colony upon the ruins of her chartered rights. 
More than forty documents, being affidavits, copies of 
records and transcripts of laws, certified by himself, some 
of them of great length and covering a period of many 
years, were arranged under the thirteen articles of im- 
peachment which they were intended to sustain. Scarcely 
' had this mass of evidence been sent away, before still more 
9. was accumulated. Nathaniel Coddington wrote to Dud- 
ley in regard to the Narragansett disputes, and also pre- 
sented a gloomy picture of the partisan spirit that ani- 
mated the government of the colony, of whom he was 
himself one, being the first assistant from Newport. It 
was an unfortunate tiling for Rhode Island that the ambi- 
tion of her neighbors often gave opportunity for any who 
were discontented to pour their grievances into the willing 
ears of her enemies. Such ex parte statements lost noth- 
ing by the transfer, and frequently involved the colony 
in further and unnecessary difficulties. The purpose of 
Coddington in this communication to Dudley is not appa- 
rent, but it served to stimulate the Narragansett proprie- 
tors, the remnants of the old Atherton company, residing 
in Boston, and always the bitter foes of Rhode Island, to 
14. address Dudley upon their own afi^airs. This they did in 
a very long document, reciting the history of Narragan- 
sett from the beginning, and referring, in flattering terms, 
to the prior administration of Dudley, when they had 



their own way and their own members in the council, but ^^^^'^j*- 

avoiding any reference to the suc(;eeding government of ^ 

Andros, who had revoked the unjust acts of Dudley, and 

had restored to Rhode Island her rights. This paper was ' i 

the last effort of the claimants for "the mortgaged lands," 

a claim founded in fraud, and maintained by force until 

exposed by tlie himinous Rej^ort of Sir Edmund Andros. 

It was forwarded by Dudley to the Board of Trade, with 15. 

the intimation that if Ehode Island was placed under him 

the petitioners should have justice. 

But Dudley was not working alone in these assaults 
upon the colony. Lord Cornberry desired to add Con- 
necticut to 'New York, and each aided the other to accom- 
l)lish the repeal of the charters. Both had been furnished 
with copies of the charges, and ordered to collect evidence 26. 
upon them. Cornberry's letter is to the same eff'ect as 
Dudley's, but relates more particularly to Connecticut. 
Each was indefatigable in pursuit of a common end, and 
both alike suffered a humiliating defeat ; for the proofs, 
although very voluminous, did not sustain the charges, 
and the replies of the accused exposed the falsity or the 
frivolity of them all. Bliode Island proved that within 
seven years she had expended more than six thousand 
])Ounds in forts and military operations, and Connecticut 
showed that although, like Rhode Island, she had some- 
times refused her quota to New York, she had over five 
hundred men in the field the past year, most of them aid- 
ing the complaining colonies. Equally convincing was the 
refutation upon other important points, and triumphant 
was the appeal of the agents when they again appeared 
in presence of the Board of Trade with all the evidence on 
either side before them.' 

Ex-Governor John Easton, died at the close of this Dec. 


^ The originals of nearly all the documents referred to in 1*705, are in 
the Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii., filling almost the entire bundle. A 
few are in New England Papers, vol. xiii., and the most important ones are 
given in R. I. Col. Rec, iii. pp. 537, 543 — 9. 



CHAP. year. He was the son of Gov. Nicholas Easton, and was 
^^^^ for two years depnty-goA^ernor, during Pliilip's war, of 

1705. which he wrote a brief account recently published in 
Dec. ^^yc^^^ afterwards, for five years, governor of 

the colony.^ 

The Pawtuxet men revived their old complaint against 
18. the government of Ehode Island in the Harris case, and 
obtained an order from tlie Queen summoning the colony 
20. to answer the petitioners before the council. Two days 
later another order was issued to the Board of Trade re- 
quiring them to report upon the iUegal proceedings of the 
charter and proprietary governments in America, and 
upon the expediency of reducing them to more imme- 
1705-6 diate subjection to the crown. Tliis renewed action was 

J^"- taken at the instigation of Dudlev, whose charges formed 
10. . ^ . " . . 

tlie basis of the report wdiich was rendered within three 

weeks. It was aimed chiefly at Massacliusetts, Rhode 
Island and Connecticut, the three governments sought by 
him to be united under his jurisdiction. The attempt, 
like the preceding ones, proved abortive, no further action 
being had upon tlie i-eport ; but it was not yet abandoned, 
as we shall presently see. It is worthy of note that oiie 
of the charges is, that these colonies promote and en- 
courage woollen and other manufactures pi'oper to Eng- 
land, instead of a])])lying their thoughts to the production 
of such commodities as are fit to be encouraged in these 
parts." The same spirit which, seventy years later, de- 
nied that " even a hob nail should be manufactured in 
America," here finds its first ofiicial expression.'' 

1706. The General Assembly ordered an investigation into 
May 1. ^]^Q iQi^g suspended controversy with Pawtuxet, that an ac- 
count of it might be sent to their solicitor, William Whar- 
ton. Two taxes amounting to seven hundred pounds 
were voted, of which five hundred pounds were for finish- 

' 1690-95. 

^ The report is in Br. R. V. 0. Proprieties, vol. xxix. p. 238, and is printed 
in R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 12—15. 



ing Fort Ann. Every inluibitiint was re(|uired to bring CIIAP. 
in a true statement of his taxable property within four 
months. The exigencies of the war demanded vigorous 1700. 
etforts. Every thing in the colony was placed ii})on a "^'^^ ^' 
war footing, and almost every man became a soldier, or 
in some way assisted in the common defence. The coast 
line was covered with scouts, a permanent garrison was 
maintained on Block Island, and extraordinary prepara- 
lions were made on every side to resist an expected inva- 
sion. A powerful French fleet was harassing the British 
West Indies, and might at any day appear ofl:' the sea- 
board. All event soon occurred to show the advantage of 
this martial activity. A sloop loaded with provisions was June 
taken by a French privateer near Block Island. The 
news reached the governor the next day. Proclamation 
for volunteers was forthwith issued, two sloops were taken 
up for the expedition, and within two hours' time were 
nuinned by a hundred and twenty men, under command 
of Capt. John AVanton, and in less than three hours after- 
Avard captured the privateer, retook her prize, and brought 
them into ^^ewport. The promptness and success of this 
gallant adventure astonished and delighted the country, 
and added fresh laurels to the naval glory of Rhode Island. 
The General Assend)ly was convened at Newport and July 3. 
voted a gratuity to the governor for his trouble in fitting 
out the sloo})S. They also empowered him, in case of 
invasion, to press any vessels into the colony service, and 
provided for their proper appraisal by two men, one to be 
selected by the gOA'ernor, the other by the owners, the 
charges to be paid fiom the treasury. Another tax of 
three hundred pounds was voted, two hundred of which 
were on account of the recent expedition. 

The papers in the Pawtuxet case having been prepar- Sept. 
ed, were sent to Wharton, the agent, with a letter to the 1^- 
Board of Trade, giving an account of the defences of the 
colony, and of the late victory by Capt. Wanton. The 
number of prisoners of war brought into Rhode Island, 



CHAP, had become a heavy charge upon the treasury, and relief 
J^^^^ from that burden was asked.' 

1706. By field, Judge of Admiralty, soon after wrote to the 
Oct. 4. j^jj-^ig^j.y^ defending his conduct in the case of Halsey's 
privateer, Charles, the last year, and relating the exploit 
of Wanton, whose prize he condemned without exacting 
the legal fees, in order to encourage so brisk an action."' 
31. The Assembly appointed two annual fairs to be held 
at Portsmouth, in May and November, each to continue 
for three days. It is said that this plan was suggested by 
George Fox when visiting his co-religionists in that town. 
The following year the act was repealed upon petition of 
the peoj^le of Portsmouth. 

The second Episcopal Society in the colony was formed 
this year at Kingstown, under tlie Rev. Christopher 
Bridge, and a church erected the following year. Ninety- 
three years afterwards this building was removed to Wick- 
ford, where until very recently it was used for divine 
service as St. Paul's Church.^ 

The northern boundary began to be a source of dis- 
pute. It a]:>pears by a petition from the people of Mendon 
to their general court, that they understood the claim of 
Phode Island to be based upon the indefinite grant of the 
Sachems in 1639, which had caused so much troul)le 
among the grantees themselves. The expression " up the 
streams of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet without limits," was 
construed literally by the petitioners, if not by the Provi- 
dence committee, and covered half the township of Men- 
don, with much more besides, within the limits of Massa- 
chusetts. After a delay of more than a year, the general 
court appointed five commissioners to run out the line as 
it had been done in 1642, and instructed the governor to 

Nov. request Phode Island also to appoint a committee to join 

' Original in Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii. ; R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 659-61. 
^ Original in Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. viii. 
• Updike's Narragansett Church, p. 39. 



them in the survey.' Gov. Dudley wrote accordingly to chap. 
Gov. Cranston, and named Colonel Byfield as chairman 
of the connnittee on the part of Massachusetts. The sub- 170H-7 
ject was presented at a special session of the Assembly, * 
called at Newport on account of a threatened invasion of 
New England by the French and Indians. Six commis- 
sioners' were selected to unite in the survey, provided the 
starting point was right, or to forbid it if otherwise, and 
especially if the line should cross Pawtucket River into the 
township of Providence. They were also to run the line 
north from Pawtucket Falls to the south line of Massa- 
chusetts. The governor was requested to notify the Con- 
necticut government to be present to secure the rights of 
that colony in establishing the point of departure. It 
does not appear that any action was taken by these com- 

At the request of Col. Dudley it was voted to equip 
the Phode Island quota of troops under command of 
Major William or Capt. John Wanton, and to fit out a 
cruiser, at the expense of the colony, whose operations 
should be confined between the thirtieth and forty -fifth 
degrees of latitude. A tax of five hundred pounds was 

' The R. 1. Assembly in May, 1705, bad appointed commissioners to run * 
the north Hue, and requested Gov. Dudley to present the subject to his 
Provincial Assembly that they might also appoint a committee for the same 
purpose Nothing was done by Dudley. The R. I. men proceeded to act 
alone. The people of Mendon appointed a connnittee to meet with those 
from Providence to learn from them the basis of their claim. This done, 
the above petition was sent September 5, 1705. An order from the council 
of Mass. was issued on the 15th to the select ,men of Mendon to forbid the 
survey by R. I., to deface the marks set up, and to arrest the trespassers. 
On the 8th of August following, the House of Representatives named a com- 
mittee of five men to run the line in connection with a R. I. committee, and 
the governor was requested to write to Gov. Cranston to that effect. The 
subject was not acted upon by the Council or upper House till again brought 
to their notice, November 5, 1706. The measure was concurred in by both 
houses the next day, and the letter written as above. — From MS. files of 
General Court of Mass. 

Thomas Olney, Joseph Jenckes, Richard Arnold, Jonathan Sprague, 
Randal Ilolden, and James Carder. 



^xill ^^^^^^^ purposes of the war. This was for the un- 

J^-,^ fortunate ex])edition against Acadie, conceived by Col. 
"^Feb^ Dudley, and undertaken without assistance from England, 
25 ' which returned during the sunnner, having been repulsed 
before the strong fortress of Port Royal. In his speech 
to the Assembly, Dudley acknowledges that " he had re- 
ceived a very honorable assistance from Rhode Island, and 
a proper force from New Hampshire.''' 

Li those days the sale of bread was regulated by law. 
An act was passed recpiiring every baker to have a dis- 
tinct mark, and to make his loaves of a certain Aveight 
according to tlie ju'ice of wheat, on penalty of forfeiting 
his bread to the use of the poor of the town, 
1707. The Board of Trade addressed a circular to the Gov- 
Miu i. ^j.jjQj.g of I^bode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, 
requiring annual returns to be made of the acts of their 
Assemblies, and making inquiries as to the population and 
connuerce of those colonies. It also announced the union 
of the crowns of England and Scotland, which was ordered 
to be published in a solemn manner, and decreed that 
henceforth Scotchmen should everywhere be considered 
as Englishmen." 

April Xlie town of Portsmoutli voted to petition the Assem^ 
19. ^ 

' Hutchinsoir.s Mass. ii. 165. The expedition consisted of about 1150 
men, in two regiments, the red and the blue, the latter led by Col. Hilton, 
of New Hampshire, and Lieutenant-Colonel Wanton, of R. I. In the fleet 
•was the sloop Bathsheba, Captain Cranston, of 8 guns and 26 men from R, 
I. The fleet sailed on the 13th May, landed the troops at Port Royal on the 
26th, and they re-embarked on 5th June. Jealousy among the officers, 
and a mutinous spirit fostered thereby among the men, rather than French 
prowess, caused the failure of the attempt. Cols. Hilton and Wanton are 
expressly named as having had no part in the disagreements which produced 
this result. Autobiography of Rev. John Barnard. See 3 Mass. His. Colls, 
vol. V. pp. 190-5. Colonel Wanton arrived at Newport the 15th June, and 
on the 18th visited Boston with Capt. Sheffield, the treasurer of the colony, 
to advise with Dudley in regard to the war. MS. letters of Cranston to 
Dudley on Court Files of Mass. 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, B. T. vol. xxix. p. 466, printed in R. 1. Col. 
Rec, iv. 22. 



hlj concerning " several grievances and oppressions " CITAP- 
under which they suffered.' In consequence of this, a 
town charter was granted to them, as had been done for 1707. 
Kewport two years before. The war witli France caused ^^^^ 
renewed efforts on the part of the colony. A special ses- 
sion of the Assembly was called by the governor, at which 28. 
a tax of fifteen hundred pounds was voted, a far heavier 
tax than any that had ever before been assessed. The 
colony yielded all control over the shores of rivers, coves, 
and other waters, to the respective towns in whicli they 
were included, the better to promote trade and navigation 
by building wharves and warehouses thereupon. A new 
ferry was estal)iished between Kingstown and Con anient. 
The dwelling house and its appurtenances belonging to the 
governor of the colony was exempted from taxation dur- 
ing his term of office. A singular case of posthumous 
punishment, intended as a terror to malefactors, occurred 
at this time. A slave in Kingstown had committed a 
murder, under circumstances of peculiar barbarity, upon 
the wife of his master, and had drowned liimself, as was 
supposed, to avoid being taken alive. His body was 
found on the shore at Little Compton about two weeks 
afterward. The Assembly ordered that his head, legs, and 
arms should be hung up in some public place near New- 
port, and his body be burnt to ashes. 

Tlie dispute on the northern frontier now assumed a q^^^ 
serious aspect. An armed force from Mendon invaded 
Rhode Island, and seizing two of the inhabitants of Prov- 
idence, carried them as prisoners to Boston. An express 
was sent to Gov. Cranston, who wrote to Col. Dudley, 
warning him of danger from the outraged citizens of 18. 
Providence, and urging a joint commission to settle the 
line. The General Assembly met at Warwick, and again 29. 
appointed commissioners'' to treat with any who might be 

^ See Portsmouth Records, April 19, 170*7. 

^ Randal Holden, James Carder, John Eldridge, Thomas Fry, and Wes- 
ton Clarke. 



CHAP, named hj Massaelmsetts upon this question, but should 
^JL. s^^^ refuse to act, then the matter was to be referred to tlie 
1707. agent m England to procure a royal order for settling the 
^^g ' line. A letter to this effect was sent to Dudley, recom- 
mending also the mutual discharge of prisoners, by which 
it appears that retaliatory measures had been promptly 
taken by the people of Providence. A committee was 
also appointed to survey and plat the vacant lands in 
Narragansett, in order to their better settlement. Massa- 
-^Qy^ chusetts acted at once upon the communication from 
5. Rhode Island, and discharged the prisoners. 

Tlie liostility to the charter governmeuts still con- 
tinued, fermented by the desire of Col. Dudley to annex 
Rhode Island to his jurisdiction, and of Lord Cornberry 
to unite Connecticut with New York. Tlie Board of 
Trade presented a report to Parliament, with charges pi-e- 
pared by order of the Queen, against these two colonies, 
28. and supported by tlie opinion of the law othcers of the 
crown that a royal governor might legally be placed o^'er 
1707-8 them. The report w^as referred to a connnittee of the 
Jan. 6. House of Lords, who called for the papers from the Board 
Y of Trade. Tlie opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor Gen- 
eral, rendered the next day, while professing to concur 
with that given thirteen years before by the crown officers 
of the precedhig reign,' actually goes much furtlier and 
declares that there is nothing iu the charters to preclude 
the appointment of a royal governor.^ Fortunately for 
the colonies, ]io action was taken upon this re2)ort. The 
master-spirit of Bellemont had passed away, and tlie pre- 
sent agitators were too powerless, or too distant from the 
court to pursue their advantage. 

It appears by a later record that a special session of 
the Assembly was held in February, at wdiich an act was 

^ See Chap. XII. Vol. I. p. 628 of this work. 

" The original order for the papers, and a copy of the opinion, are in 
Bf, S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. ix. pp. 16, 17. The latter is printed in R. I. 
Col. Rec, iv. 15. 



passed laying a duty of tliree pounds upon every negro CHAP, 
imported into tlie colony. 'No record of tliis session re- 
mains ; l)ut tlie subject of tliis act was one tliat liad begun 1708. 
to excite much attention Avitli the home government, as 
well as in the colonies. The African Slave Trade, pre- 
viously a inono})()ly of tlie Eoyal African Company, but 
which had been oi)ened to all British merchants six years 
before, by act of Parliament, " for the well supplying of 
the plantations and colonies with suthcient numbers of 
negroes at reasonable prices,'' formed the subject of a cir- April 
cular, addressed by the Board of Trade to all the Anieri- 
can colonies, to ascertain the exact condition of that trade, 
and how far the business of the company was affected ])y 
the operations of separate traders.' The first replies were 
to embrace the nine and a half years from the 0])ening of 
the trade to the past Christmas, after which, semi-annual 
reports on the subject Avere required, and so im})ortant 
was it considered, that no other matter w^as to be included 
in these official records of the slave trade. By tlie reply 
of llliode Island we hiarn that but one vessel had ever 
arrived direct from the coast, and that was two years pre- 1696. 

^ The earliest English trade with Guinea commenced in the leign of 
Edward VI. The English having no colonies at that time, the trade was 
chiefly confined to gold and ivory. The first organized trading company to 
Africa was incorporated in 30th Elizabeth. This was succeeded by the 
"Company of Royal Adventurers," chartered in 1662, which was so unsuc- 
cessful that in ten years it sold out to a new company called the Royal 
African Company, chartered September 27, 1G72. The expense of main- 
taining forts upon the coast, and the losses sustained through wars with 
the rival Dutch and French companies, led Parliament to open the trade 
to all merchants on the 24th June, 1698, for a term of 1-1 years, and to im- 
pose an export duty of 10 per cent, on all goods sent to Africa, to defray the' 
expense to the company of keeping up the forts. The revenue thus de- 
rived was insufficient for the i)urpose. Upon the expiration of the act in 
1712, the people required that the trade should continue open. Compensa- 
tion was long afterward made to the company for their military outlay, a 
new " company of merchants trading to Africa " was formed, and on the 
loth April, 1752, the Royal African Company ceased to exist. 

The circular is in Br. S. P. 0. Plantations General, vol. xxxvii. p. 165. 
Printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 53 



CHAP, vious to the act of Parliament referred to. She bronglit 
J^^^ forty-seven shxves, fourteen of whom were sold in the 
colony at thirty to thirty-fiye pounds each, and the re- 
mainder were sent by land to Boston, where the vessel 
ITOO. was owned. Four ^^ears later, three slavers, owned in Bar- 
badoes, sailed from Newport for the coast of Africa. Bar- 
badoes was the source whence Rhode Island received most 
of her slaves. From twenty to thirty was the average 
annual supply, and from thirty to forty pounds each the 
usual price. Xo more than these could be disposed of, 
owing to the general dislike our planters have for them, 
by reason of their turbulent and unruly tempers," to the 
natural increase of those already here, and " to the incli- 
nation of our people in general, to employ white servants 
before negroes.'-' 
1708. Tlie Assembly met by adjournment at Newport, and, 
'^28^^ conformity with the letter from the Board of Trade of 
the previous May, ordered a census of the whole colony 
to be taken. Tliis was the first general census ever made 
in Ithode Island. The number of inhabitants was found 
to be 7,181, of whom 1,015 were freemen, fifty-six white, 
and four hundred and twenty-six black servants, and the 
militia force, which included all males between the ages 
of sixteen and sixty years, was reported at 1362. Each 
of these was re(piired to provide himself with a musket, 

^ Original in Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. ix., p. 86. Printed in R. I. 
Col. Ree., iv., 54. By a singular coincidence, while the author was writing 
this earliest official record of slavery in Rhode Island, "the last of the R. I. 
slaves" expired. The subjoined newspaper paragraph commemorates the 
€vent. " Last of tiik Rhode Island slaves. James Howlat\d, the last of 
the Rhode Island slaves, died at the residence of John Howland, JamestoAvn, 
R. I., on the 3d inst., at the ripe old age of one hundred years. He had 
always been a faithful servant in the Howland family. Up to the hour of 
his death he retained all his faculties unimpaired, and on the night of Janu- 
ary 2d, attended to his usual duties about the house. On the morning of 
the 3J he arose, dressed himself, and was about to descend the stairs from 
his chamber, when he fainted, and expired in a few moments. He was the 
last of the Rhode Island slaves." — Providence Daily Tribune, Monday, Janu- 
ary 10, 1859. 


a sword or bayonet, a cartridge box, one ponnd of pow- riTAP. 
der, and four pounds of bullets, and upon any alarm to 
repair at once to their places of rendezvous, subject to the 17os. 
orders of their officers.' A tax of eight liundred pounds 
was laid, in payment of which Indian corn was to be 
taken at two shillings a bushel, barley at one and eight 
pence, rye at two and six pence, oats at fourteen pence, 
wheat at three shillings, and wool at nine [)ence a pound. 
Tlie registry act had fallen into disuse from tlie want of 
a penalty attached to its violation. It was therefore re- 
enacted, with a suitable fine to enforce its execution. 
Power was given to the governor and council, to press 
vessels, or any other property, into the public service, 
should an emergency require. 

The general election made no important changes in the May 5. 
list of officers. The session was chielly occupied in hear- 
ing cases of appeal from the court of trials. The exposed 
condition of Block Island, constantly in danger of being 
again attacked by the French, as it had so often been 
during the previous war, caused the Assembly to pass an 
act for its defence. A quota of fifteen men was voted, to 
form the nucleus of a garrison upon the island. To estab- 
lish a uniform value for foreign coins in the colonies, and 
to encourage trade to America, engaged the attention of 
Parliament, and formed the subject of another circular 
from the Board of Trade.^ Additional instructions to the June 
several colonial governments were submitted to the Queen. 29. 
These related to the Acts of Trade, one chiuse of whicli, 
requiring plantation produce to be inq)orted into the 
United Kingdom before being sent i foreign countries, 
had been constantly violated by the colonies. Rice and 
molasses are specially named as having been thus illegally 
exported. The instructions were approved by her Majesty, July 3. 
and brought out by Lord Lovelace, the newly apj^ointed 

^ The original census roll is in Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. ix., p. 89. 
printed in R. L Col. Rec, iv., 59. 

Br. S. P. 0, Plantations General, vol. xxxvii., p. 184. 
VOL. II.— 39. 



CHAP, successor to Lord Cornbeny as Governor of New 
^'J^ York.' 

1708. The object of a siiininer session of the Assembly, held 
this year, is not a})parent. The record of its ])roceedin^s, 
so far as they are preserved, is an exact transcript of what 
was done in April. ^ 

The appearance of French privateers on the coast, again 
called forth the energy and naval s})irit of Khode Island. 
Intelligence that two vessels had been taken at Martha's 

Sei)t. Vineyard was received at Newport, and within three 
^' honrs two sloops, commanded by Major William Wanton, 
and Capt. John Cranston, Avere despatched against the 
enemy. The French destroyed their prizes, and putting 
to sea, escaped after a twenty-four hours' chase.' Public 
auctions were established in Newport by the next General 

Oct. Assembly held at Providence, and the townsmen were 
^"^^ empowered to select a vendue nuister to conduct them. 
A committee was appointed to agree with Ninigret, 
Sachem of the Niantics, as to the amount and location of 
the land recpiired by his tribe, and also to examine into 
the condition of Narragansett, with a view to the settle- 
ment of a new town. The business of the Assend)ly as a 
Court of E(piity and Ap})eals, had so greatly increased, 
that a tax of three })ounds was henceforth required to be 
2>aid by every appellant before his case should be heard, 
bnt if judgment Avas rendered in his favor, this tax Avas to 
be alloAved in his bill of costs. No Avar measures were 
proposed at this session, probably because sufHcient power 
liad already been A^ested in the coimcil, for defence against 
the enemy. The neighboring colonies were active in this 

' Ibid, p. 211. Printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iv., 91. 

^ Both sessions are reported as being held on " the last Tuesday" of the 
month, so that we are inclined to think that this report of an August session 
Timy be a clerical error of the Recorder, who has inserted a portion of the 
April proceedings twice, and headed them " the last Tuesday of Auguiit " 
instead of April. 

' Letters of Gov. Cranston to the Board of Trade, Dec. 5, 1708, in Br. 
S. P. O. Proprieties, vol. ix., p. 88. 



respect, and the Connecticut Assembly a})i)ropriatcd fifty CIIAP. 
pounds for tlie bringiuii^ up and niaintainiui^ of dogs in ^'J^ 
the northern frontier towns in that colony, to hunt after 1708. 
the Indian enemy. 

To the seyeral letters and circulars of the Board of Dec. 5. 
Trade, receiyed in the past year, Gov. Cranston wrote 
minute replies, and forwarded the census roll and com- 
mercial statistics as re(piired. From these we learn that 
the amount of annual exports to England, sent by way 
of Boston, was estimated at twenty thousand pounds. 
The principal direct trade was to the West Indies. AV^ith- 
in the past twenty years the amount of ship})ing had in- 
creased six fold, owing " to the inclination the youth on 
ivliode Island have for the sea," because the whole island 
was already taken up in small farms. The fact that but two 
or three of our vessels had ever been taken by the enemy, 
by reason of their superior sailing qualities, is also assign- 
ed as a cause for this predilection ; " they being light and 
sharp for runners, so that yery few of the enemy's priva- 
teers, in a gale of wind, will run or outsail one of our 
loaded vessels." Within eleven years, eighty-four vessels 
of all sizes, from ships to sloops, had been built in the 
colony,^ twenty -nine were then owned here, all but two 
or three of them in New^port, and the number of native 
seamen was one hundred and forty. ^ 

We have before seen that Sabbatarian views prevailed 
to such an extent in New^port, that two weekly market 

^ At a General Assembly held at New Haven, Oct. 14, 1*708. Antiqui- 
ties of Conn., 338. This is the only instance we know of in New England 
history where it was proposed to use dogs to hunt down the Indians — a 
measure for which the United States government was so severely and justly 
condemned during the Seminole war. 

^ The classes of vessels built were ships, brigantines and sloops. The 
schooner, now the favorite rig for coasters, was as yet unknown. It is a 
purely American invention of later date. The first schooner was launched 
at Gloucester, Mass., in 1714. See 1 M. H. C, ix. 234, and x. 195. 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proprieties, vol. ix., pp. 87—90. R. I. Col. Rcc, iv., 




CHAP, days were appointed to accommodate those wlio kept Sat- 
nrday as the proper Sabbath.' A distinct church had 

1708. been formed by some members of the Baptist Church 
under Dr. Clarke, and others who held these sentiments^ 
over which the Rev. William Iliscox was j^astor.'^ Pre- 
vious to this a number of the members of Clarke's church 
had emigrated to Westerly,^ where they afterwards em- 
braced the Sabbatarian doctrine, and this year organized 
the second church of that order in the colony, in what is 
now Hopkinton, under the care of John Maxson, jr., as 
elder." A year of warlike preparation now opened upon 

1708-9 the colonies. A royal order was issued announcing the 

I'eb. intended invasion of Canada, and requirins: aid to be fur- 
28 . . . . 

nished in accordance Avith a plan submitted by Col. Yetch, 

who was clothed with full powers to arrange the cam- 

1709. paign. AVharton, a London Solicitor, Avhom William 
Mar. Penn had employed in the interest of Phode Island, dur- 
ing his agency, at forty pounds a year, had given such sat- 
isfaction, that the General Assembly increased his annual 
salary thirty pounds for his past services, and appointed 
him the colony agent hereafter, at a salary of eighty 
pounds. This arrangement closed the official connection 
between Phode Island and the celebrated Penn. A tax 
of five hundred pounds was voted. A printing press was 
to be set up at Newport, and a public printer was ap- 
pointed, for the first time, at this session. One Bradford, 
whose father was a printer in New York, proposed " to 
find paper and print all things that may relate to tlie 
colony and government, for fifty pounds per annum, if it 
be but for one year or two." The proposal was accepted 
for one year. The new Assembly were fully occupied in 
preparing for the Canada expedition, as required by the 
Queen's letter. A w^ar tax of one thousand pounds was 

1 In May, 1677. See vol. i., chap, x., p. 427. 
Mn 1671. Elton's Callender, 119. 
^ In 1665. Ibid. 

* Seventh Day Baptist Memorial, vol. i.,.p. 52. 



levied, and a special council of war was appointed to aid CIIAP. 
the governor.^ Capt. Edward Thurston was chosen com- 

niissary, to provide all military stores for the colony. 1709. 

• • 1 ^ ^ ^ ' \^ r\ ? May 4. 

Provision was made to entertain tlie C^ueen s messenger, 

Col. Yetch, and the commander-m-cliief, Gen. Nicholson, 
former Lieutenant-Governor of New York, under Andros, 
at the public cliarge. Two vessels for war purposes were 
purchased by the colony, and several transports provided 
to carry the troops to Boston. Two hundred effective 
men were equipped and drilled for the service in little 
more than one month, and sailed for Nantasket, the reii- June 
dezvous of the fleet, where they arrived in three days. 
There they were destined to remain for Ave months, under 
pay by the colony, but inactive owing to the non- arrival 
of the British fleet w^ith Avhicli they were to co-operate. 
The colony sent a congratulatory address to Nicholson, 27. 
who was to command the land forces, fifteen hundred 
strong, raised in the provinces west and south of Rhode 
Island, and Gov. Cranston wrote him a private letter at 
the same time, in wdiich he refers to his generosity in aid- 
ing the churches ; Nicholson having been a liberal patron 
of Trinity church at its foundation.^ Another tax of one 
thousand pounds was voted at the next session, and the 
proceeds of the sale of public lands in Narragansett were ^^^g^ 
also appropriated to the Canada expedition.^ The unac- 31. 
countable delay in the arrival of the promised fleet from 
England, without which the great efforts of the colonies 
must prove fruitless, caused a meeting of all the govern 
ors to consult with Yetch and Nicholson. This oc^*asioned gept. 
a special session of the Assembly to be convened at Khigs- 30. 
towm, at whicli a committee of eleven persons, five from 

^ It consisted of Major William Wanton, Major Henry Tew, Col. John 
Wanton, Job Almy, and Capt. John Brown. 

2 New York Colonial MSS. liii., 104. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 73. 

^ The report of the committee on these lands subsequently made, shows 
the amount of £3,795 15s 10c?, received for them, at the rate of about 
Is per acre, or 18f cents. 



CHAP, eacli house, with the deputy governor, was appointed to 
assist the governor at the meeting, and the full powers of 

1709. the Assembly were delegated to them. As this congress 
was about to meet, news arrived from England of the 
defeat of the allies in Spain, and the consecpient withdrawal 
of the fleet designed against Canada. An address to tlie 
Queen was adopted, urging the importance of reducing 
the Frencli in Xorth America, and praying assistance for 
that purj^ose.' A few days later the Rhode Island As- 

26. sembly met at Warwick, and disbanded the troops and 
transports which all this time had been idly waiting near 
Boston. The expenses of this fruitless effort had fallen 
heavily upon all tlie colonies. Connecticut, 'New York, 
and New Jersey, foUowhig the example of Massachusetts, 
twenty years before, during the lirst expedition against 
Canada, of issuing bills of credit, now put out their first 
paper mone}'. Rhode Island was soon to commit the 
1709-10 same serious error. Iler expenses had exhausted the 
^2^^' heavy tax already voted for the year, and at an adjourned 
session of the Assembly, a further tax of twelve hundred 
pounds Avas made. The price of all produce had risen, 
from the increased demand for military purposes. 

1710. The same officers were re-chosen at the general elec- 
■^'^•^ ^' tion. Although so great efforts had been made the past 

year against the French, and without success, yet the war 
spirit remained undiminished. Massachusetts urged Con- 
necticut and Rhode Island to unite in fitting out an armed 
June vessel to cruise for the protection of trade south of Cape 
Cod. A second attempt against Port Royal, destined to 
be more successful than that of three years before, was pro- 

^ This meeting of the governors was called by Col. Vetch to assemble at 
New London, but Newport was thought to be more convenient, so the mem- 
bers met there, but for some cause adjourned to Rehoboth. It was called 
for the 4th of Oct., but did not meet till the 12th or later; and was over be- 
fore the 19th. The delny was for the sake of hearing from England, and the 
news received deprived the congress of the opportunity of doing any thing 
of importance except adopting the Address to the Queen. Historical Maga- 
zine, vol. iii., p. 128. 

intr()1)u; tion of papek mom.y. 


posed. Gov. ('raiistoii convened the Assembly by special CHAP, 
warrant. A recess of live days was taken, after wliich 
tliey voted to ecpiip one liundred and lifty-five men, with 1710. 
stores for three montlis, and the necessary transports for '^^^^ 
the expedition.' To meet the extraordinary ex])enses tlius 30. 
incnrred, liliode Ishuid adopted the ])hin pursued by her 
neighbors. An act for issning bills of credit was passed. 
Five thousand i)Ounds, in denominations from five pound 
to two shilling bills wei'e issued, signed the sixteenth of 
August, and to be ecpial in value to current silver of Xew 
England, which was eight shillings to the ounce. The 
body of the bills recited that they should be received for 
jdl payments due to the treasury. A committee was ap- 
pointed to sign them. They were to be redeemed in specie 
at the end of five years, and were secured by an anhual 
tax of one thousjiiul pouiuls, levied solely for this ])ur])Ose. 
It was declared felony to counterfeit or deface them. 
Thus connnenced in llhode Island a system of paper 
money issues fraught with disaster to the commercial in- 
terests of the colony, whose baleful influence was to extend 
over nearly a century, distracting alike the political, finan- 
ciai, and even the social coiulition of the people, and 
which was to be the occasion of nu)st bitter partisan strife 
long after the revolutionary war had left us an inde})end- 
ent State. If we except the ])rinci[)les upon which the 
colony was founded, aiul which, from their intrinsic truth, 
have since become universal, this adoption of the paper 
money system is perhaps the first act of our colonial legis- 
lation, whose influence extends bey^ond the period of inde- 

The council of war called u})on Ivhode Island for more 
troops, and urged that two hundred men be sent from this 
colony. This was much more than her proportion, but 
was promptly allowed by the General Assembly at a 

^ The apportionment of this force among the towns, their rates of pay, 
and the Ust of stores provided, are detailed in the several acts of this ses- 
sion. See R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 03—96, 98. 



CHAP, special session held for tliis purpose, and tlie draft for tlie 
additional fortj-five men was appointed among the towns. 

1710. Lest this voluntary increase of the quota should be taken 
as a precedent in future, it was resolved to address the 
Queen upon the subject. Lieutenant-Colonel John Cran- 
ston was appointed to command the Rhode Island forces, 
and anotlier transport was taken up to convey the new 
levies. The fleet, consisting of twelve ships of war, and 
twenty-four transports, of which fourteen were in the pay 
of Massacliusetts, two of I^ew Hampshire, three of Rhode 
Island, and five of Connecticut, with five regiments, the 

Sept. whole under command of Gen. Nicholson, sailed from 
2^' Nantasket for Port Royal, where they arrived in six days. 
One of the Connecticut transports, the Mary, was wrecked 

Oct. 2. and twenty-six men were drowned. The fort surrendered 
after a short siege, in wliicli the English loss was only 
fourteen or fifteen men. The name of the port was 
changed to Annapolis Royal. Col. Yetcli w^as left in 
command of the garrison, and tlie fleet returned in tri- 
umph to Boston.' Great was the joy througliout New 
England at this important success, and a gratuity was 
voted to Major George Lee, who brought the news to 
Rhode Island. 

25. To give greater value to the bills of credit, the Assem- 
bly voted to receive them in payment of taxes, at five per 
cent, premium. A further issue of one thousand pounds, 
in these bills was ordered. The pressure of business at 
the Court of Trials had become so great, and the causes 
often so trifling, that the plan, which for two years had 
been pursued by the Court of Appeals, was adopted, re- 
quiring a fee before entering any case upon the docket. 
Five shillings were hereafter to be paid by the plaintiff, 
upon commencing an action, to be returned to him if he 
recovered his suit. Much difficulty was caused by the 
arbitrary conduct of the revenue officers in exacting unu- 

^ Plutchinson's Mass;, ii., 181. 


siial fees, and in allowino- bnt one port of entry for cacli chap. 


colony, thus subjecting si lipm asters to needless troul)le, 
often injurious to their small trade, in obtaining their 1710. 
papers. Rhode Island established a table of fees, and en- 
forced the statute with severe penalties. The subject was 
communicated to the Board of Trade by Gov. Cranston, Nov. 
enclosing a copy of the act, asking its confirmation by the 
Board, and also that the collectors be required to appoint 
deputies at each trading port.' 

Again the Assembly was convened by the governor's 27. 
w^arrant, it being the sixth session held during the year. 
The law against counterfeiting bills of credit did not eni- 
l)race those issued by the other Xew England govern- 
ments. These were now included in a new act of the 
same nature, and provision for the extradition of counter- 
feiters was made. Another issue of one thousand pounds 
was ordered, and a tax to redeem that amount of bills 
was levied. Two hundred and fifty pounds were sent to 
England to protect the interests of the colony. 

Tlie subject of education, and other domestic regula- 
tions pertained to the towns. In Xewport schools and higli- 
wavs received much attention. The public school was 
placed in charge of the town council, and a place was pro- 
vided for Mr. Galloway to open a Latin school. The 
£rst town crier was appointed this year. A survey and ^ 
plat of the town were made, and the council was required 31.' 
to give names to the streets and alleys. Liberty was 
granted to take limestone from the rocks in the harbor, 
to be made into lime.'"' In Providence the bridges were 
the chief object of attention, and often required the action 
of the legislature.^ Feb. 

The Board of Trade favorably received the letter of 
Gov. Cranston, and in their reply required a copy of the 

^ Original, with attested copy of the Act and Table of Fees, in Br. S. P. 
O. Proprieties, vol. ix., pp. 7, 8. R. I. Col. Hec, iv. 108. 
Bull's Memoir of R. I., 1710—11. 
^ Staple's Annals, 186. 



CHAP, laws of the colony to he sent to them, with the reasons 
™^ for any that niiglit he of a special character.' Tlie As- 
IVll. sembly accordingly ordered the laws to be prei)ared for 
Hiirch ^j-^g press. Tliey also relieyed all riyer craft, trading as 
far as Connecticnt, from paying cnstom dnes, and enacted 
that for free goods the officers shonld receiNe no fees. 
The northern bonndary, after mnch negotiation, had 
been, as was sn])posed, satisfactorily adjnsted.' The two 
commissioners Avere paid for their seryices, and snryeyors 
were appointed to rnn ont tlie line in accordance with the 
articles of agi-eement which had been prepared. Bnt this 
arrangement proyed not to be final or satisfactory. Mas- 
saclmsetts still claimed the land lying north of Pawtnchet 
May 2. Eiyer ; so that seyeral of the inhabitants of that tract })e- 
titioned the Assend)ly to snstain tliem in tlieir rights as 
citizens of llhode Island, and the goyernor was directed 
to prohibit the exercise of any other anthority than that 
of this colony witliin tlie line recently established. The 
disputed territoiy was placed under the jurisdiction of 
Proyidence, and the officers of that town were recpiired 

^ Br. S. P. 0. Proi)iicties, vol. xxx., p. 2()2. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. lo9. 

^ The R. I. Coniraittfe reported, ]-Vb. 28, l70i) — 10, that when they met 
the Mass. men, it wns foiiiid that these had not sullicMent jiower lo complete 
thiC business. They had therefore run the line by themselves. The Assembly, 
at that session, desiring a mutual agreement, requested Mass. to fully em- 
power their committee. This was not done, but Col. Dudley intinuited that 
if ^lajor Joseph Jenekes was commissioned lor the purpose, they two could 
agree upon a settlement. Jenekes avms accordingly invested Avith lull 
power for six months to treat with Dudley, July 8(t, 171i>, upon the hue 
from Pawtucket Falls north to Mass. south line, and thence west to Conn. 
At the Octol)er session, Jenekes was authorized to settle with Dudley on 
any other terms that lie might thiidv proper. R. I. was anxious for an ad- 
justnu'nt. In November, Capt. Samuel Wilkinson was joiiiid with JenclvCS 
in tlie commission, and on 19th .biiuiary, articles of settlement between the 
two colonies were drawn up, which being reported at this session, March 
27, 1711, were accepted, and Major Jenekes and John Munilord were ap- 
pointed to run the line in accordance therewith. For some reason this was 
not done at that time. May 25, 1715, the Mass. Assv. aiip()iiit(Ml a com- 
mittee to carry out the agreement, and the next year, ^lay, 1716, R. I. 
named commissioners to act with them. 



to prevent any encroaclinient npon its limits. Westerly riiAT. 
was entitled to only two deinities, bnt for some canse ccr- ^^'^^ 
tificateswere given by the town clerk to fonr. The return 171 1. 
was declared void, and a new election ordered to he held -^^^y^- 
forthwith. The three bridges on the high road laid ont 
throngh the colony from Pawtncket River to Paweatnck, - 
over which the travel from Boston to New York chiefly 
passed, one at Pawtncket, one at Weybosset, now Market 
S(piare in Providence, and one at Pawtnxet, had been built 
and ke])t in repair by private contribntion in the se\x^ral 
colonies interested in their maintenance. They recpiired 
rebnilding, and an appropriation of two hundred pounds 
was made for this pnrpose, to be added to the sum raised 
by snbscripti(m. An act passed at this time for raising a 
troop of horse in the mainland towns. This was the third 
cavalry corps organized in the colony, and the second in 
this portion of it.' 

Gov. Cranston informed Dudley of the Assembly's ac- 28. 
tion in regard to the disputed territory, wherenpon the j^j^^^ 
legislatnre of Massachusetts voted to i-efer the matter to 14. 
the Qneen, and meanwhile to resist the anthority of Phode 
Island, forbidding the inhabitants from submitting thereto.' 

After the capture of Port lioyal, General Nicholson, 
who, in the preceding antunm, liad gone to England to 
secnre aid for that expedition, encouraged by his former 
snccess, made a second voyage to nrge the ministry to 
send ont a still larger force this year for the conquest of 
Canada. To the snrprise and delight of the colonies, this 
mission was also snccessfnl. Nicholson himself brought 
the news to Boston, and a few days later, while a conven- 
tion of governors w^as held at New London to i)lan tlie 21. 
campaign, the fleet arrived. The exertions of the colom'sts 2-4 
snrpassed all they had hitherto made. xV great deal was 
to be done in a short thne, for the fleet had come without 

^ The first was on the island, Aug., 16G7, prior to which the mounted 
men were not organized; the second was on the mainland, Oct., 1G82. 
Mass. Files, vol. iii., p. 36, in R. I. H. S. 



CHAP, provisions, and two armies were to be equipped at once. 
All the legislatures were convened, and the most energetic 

1711. measures adopted. Letters of thanks were everywhere 
voted to the Queen and to Gen. Nicholson for their zeal in 
defence of the colonies. Still there was a suspicion that 
the Tory ministry of Ann intended some injury to New 
England, where tlie people were all Whigs ; and the 

June result tended to confirm this opinion. Khode Island 
2^- raised a hundred and seventy-nine men, and furnished 
vessels and stores for the expedition. The one thousand 
pounds provided to meet the bills of credit, were diverted 
to defray the expenses of the war, and an additional issue 
of' bills to the amount of six thousand pounds was 
made.^ By unparalleled exertions, in little more than a 
month, every tiling was ready, and the fleet, consisting of 
fifteen ships of war, and forty transports under command 

July of Sir Ilovendon Walker, with an army of five British 

30 • • • 

and two colonial regiments, amounting to nearly seven 

thousand men, under Brigadier Hill, sailed from Boston. 

On the same day Nicholson began his journey for Albany, 

to take command of the colonial army that was to march 

Aug. ao-ainst Montreal.^ The fleet entered the St. Lawrence 

safely, and there waited six days for the arrival of tlie 
22. transports. Two days afterwards a violent storm caused 
the loss of so many vessels, with nearly a thousand men, 
that the expedition was abandoned. The time lost in 
Gaspee Bay would have sufficed to reach Quebec. Nichol- 
son received news of the disaster before reaching Lake 
Cliamplain, and immediately returned with his army. It 
was attempted to throw the blame of this failure upon the 
colonies, Avho were the severest sufferers by it, not only on 
account of their efibrts in fitting the exj^edition, but also 

^ The apportionment of this force, the prices and amount of provisions, 
and the pay of troops for the Canada expedition, are detailed in the several 
acts of this session. R. I. Col. Rec, iv., 120 — 4. 

The strength of this force is variously stated. Trumbull mentions it 
as 4,000 men. Hildreth says 2,300, of whom 800 were Indians. 



from tlie exposure to Frencli and Indian invasion with c^iiap. 
which they were now threatened. 

An adjourned session of the Assembly was lield at 1711. 
Newport. Wharton, the Solicitor of Sir William Penn ^^g^'- 
had died, and Penn, as agent of the cohmy, was requested 
to make out the account with the widow. A Massachu- 
setts officer attempting to exercise authority in that part 
of Attleboro' claimed hj Pliode Island, was seized, and Oct. 
required to give bonds to appear at the Court of Trials in 
Warwick. The legislature of that province appointed 
counsel to conduct the defence, and to assert their claim 
to the whole of Attleboro' as a part of the ancient domain 
of Plymouth.' 

All the colonies adopted addresses to the Queen, set- 
ting forth their exertions, and desiring anotlier expedition 
to be sent the next year against Canada. That of Phode 
Island was prepared by the governor and council. The 24. 
Assembly met at Warwick, to consider propositions for 
retaining the alliance of the Five Nations, wdio were sus- 
pected of a design to join the French. It was decided 
that Rhode Island should bear her part with the rest in 
this object, and a committee of two from each house^ was 
chosen to assist the governor in the matter. A loan of 
three hundred pounds in bills of credit, for four years, 
without interest, was voted to James Green for services 
rendered twenty -five years before, and an issue of new bills 
to that amount was ordered. At the subsequent session, ^'y^^^f 
more important measures were adopted. The navigation 27. 
act, that constant source of annoyance to Phode Island, 
had been practically annulled by clandestine traders in 
several important particulars. To secure its better en- 
forcement and to protect the interests of the people, a law 
was passed requiring all persons resident for three months 
in the colony and intending to leave, to advertise their in- 

^ Mass. Files, MS. vol. ii., fol. 116. R. I. H. S. 

' Joseph Jenckes and Randall Holdeii of the Council. Nathaniel Shef- 
field and Benjamin EUery of the Assembly. 


CHAP, tention ten days beforeliand, so that tlieir creditors iiiiglit 
have dne notice/ A certilicate that tliis had been done 

1711-12. ^Yas to be presented to some officer in Is ewport before a 
permit to embark conki be obtained. Sliipmasters im- 
porting slaves into the colony, were reqnired to fnrnish a 
sworn manifest, with full details, and to pay three pounds 
for each negro, and two pounds for an Indian, before be- 
ing allowed to land. These acts were enforced with 
severe penalties, and all shipmasters were required to give 
bonds in the sum of fifty pounds at the naval office, for 
tlieir proper observance of them. The earliest Quarantine 
act in Khode Island was passed at this time, to pi'event 
the introduction of small-pox, which had several times 
broken out in Xew})ort. The statute of limitations, quiet- 
ing land titles after twenty years' possession, the basis of 
the J) resent State law upon the subject, was also enacted. 
The Cliancery ])owers of the Assembly, which had been 
questioned seven years before in that body, were recon- 
sidered at this session, owing to the reversal in England 
of a decision made by them upon appeal from the Court 
of Trials, in a question of land title, which was afterward 
heard before the Royal Council. The act constituting 
the Assembly a Court of Chancery was repealed, and the 
intention of erecting a proper Chaucery Court was de- 
clared ; but appeals by way of petition," for relief in 
matters cognizable 1)y the Assembly, were still to be 
allowed. The sealer or weights and measures, complained 
that they varied from those of the adjacent colonies, and 
proposed the introduction of metallic in place of wooden 
standards of measure, as being more exact. He was em- 

1712. powered to obtain such, and to adjust them with those of 

May 7. Massachusetts. The present year was one of veiy little 
historical importance, and we may therefore feel less 
regret at the loss of the colony records, of which only 
those of the spring session are preserved. No warlike en- 

' A similar law exists at this day in Russia. 



terprise being coiiteniplated, the ship, belonging to tlie CIIAP. 
colony was sold. The request for a bridge near Pawca- ^^^^ 
tuck River, to be built by contribution, was allowed. 1712. 
Bridges and ferries were fi*equent subjects of legislation.' 
The latter was the only matter of public interest acted 
upon at the adjourned session, when the conditions and June 
rates of ferriage were prescribed by statute, and the whole 
care of the ferries was placed in charge of a committee. 

The war of the Spanish succession, known also as 1713. 
Queen iVnne's war, which had lasted for eleven ^xars, Avas 
drawing to a close. The prestige of British arms had been 
secured by the genius of Marlborough. The balance of 
power, that old idea of transatlantic diplomacy, so rashly 
attempted only a few years ago by Eui'opean statesmen 
to be applied to the A¥estern Continent, was satisfactorily -j^l^^^g 
adjusted, on what appeared to be a permanent basis, l)y 
the treaty of Utrecht. The ratifications were promptly 
exchanged by the belligerent parties a few days later, and 
peace once more smiled upon an exhausted world. The 28. 
last war of religious and political principle was ended. 
A new era had commenced. Commercial privilege hence- 
forth usurped the throne of priestly and kingly prerogative. 
Trade was to be the battle cry in future contests. Mer- 
cantile adventure and territorial aggrandizement were 
soon to become the occasion and the object of further 
strife, and colonial affairs, the conflict for the possession 
of the Western world, were ere long to assume an impor- 
tance hitherto unknown. By the peace of Utrecht the 

' Gov. Cranston communicated to the Assembly, Feb. 27, 1711 — 12, a 
letter from Joseph Jenckes, stating that parties in Mass, would aid in erect- 
ing the bridge at Pawtucket, whereupon a letter was written to Mass. on 
the subject. On the 20th March, that colony appointed a committee to 
select a location for the bridge. The next year this committee reported, 
May 29, 1713, the best site to be at the Falls. The bridge was there built 
at a cost of £223 14s. Md., of which sum Mass. paid out of the public treas- 
ury £111 lis. 5^(/., as appears by a later record of her General Court, and 
afterwards, June 14, 1716, resolved to lay out a highway within tliat pro- 
vince, leading to the said bridge. 



CHAP, crowns of France and Sixain were forever disunited. Prot- 


^^^^ estant ascendency and the peaceful accession of the House 
1713. of Hanover were secured to England. Acadia, henceforth 
known as ^^'ova Scotia, ^Newfoundland, and Hudson's 
Bay were given up to the British crown, and continental 
boundaries were defined very nearly as they exist at the 
present time. But two evils, destined to swell to colossal 
magnitude, grew out of this brilliant and decisive war ; 
the national debt of England, and the increased stimulus 
given to the slave trade. A debt of fifty millions sterling 
was the burden entailed upon the British nation to this 
day, in return for the glory that their fatliers won in this 
memorable struggle. Spain, stripped of her continental 
provinces, and losing upon her own soil the stronghold of 
Gibraltar, retained her colonial possessions under circum- 
stances disastrous alike to herself and to her conquerors. 
The assiento, a contract with the old French Guinea com- 
pany for furnishing Spanish America with negro slaves, 
which had been in operation for eleven years, was con- 
veyed to the English by the treaty of Utrecht, and con- 
signed to the South Sea Company, who thereby agreed to 
land forty-eight hundred slaves annually for thirty years, 
or 144,000 Africans, in the New World. By this treaty 
England became the great slave trader of Christendom, 
and from the spoils of African humanity, perpetuated the 
system of l)ondage over both Americas. 




pp Whereas Captain John Ilore commander of the Dublin frigate of 
H. * Jamaica hath hy virtue of his commission granted by the Right 
honored Sir W"". Beestow, Knt. their Maj". Lieut-Gov'., Commander 



in cliief in and over their Island of Jamaica, and otlier the territories CIIAP. 
depending thereon in America, and Vice Admiral of the same, beaHng XIIL 
date the 21st day of January, 1G94, hath taken a Prize from the ^^jT" 
French, his Maj'^. publick Enemies, subjects to the French King, as n ' 
appears by evidence of the Boatswain, Quarter-Master of the said 
Prize, and prays condemnation of said Prize and goods unto her be- 
longing, of the honored Gov', of their Maj*'. Colony of Rhode Island 
and Providence Plantations, and the Gov'. Dep. Gov', and Generall 
Oouncill takeing the presentation and request of Capt°. John Ilore 
and Comp^ into their serious consideration, having not, since the 
grant of our gratious Charter from King Charles the second of Blessed 
memory, had the like occasion for precedent, and seeing a necessity 
in these times of War to encourage those who serve his Maj'^ against 
his publick Enemies, doe conceive that by virtue of our Charter give- 
ing full power to act in all things for the preservation of his Maj'^\ 
subjects and the Honor of the Crown of England, doe judge although 
in express words in our Charter we are not called nor mentioned an 
Admiralty, conceive we are in like manner authorized, and finding a 
necessity to encourage as aforesaid doe deem the General Council of 
this Colony to have the power of Admiralty of this Colony, that there 
may be a foundation laid to assist his Maj'". subjects in these times of 
Warr until his Maj'^'\ pleasure be further known. 

These above written is voted an Act of the Generall Councill and 
is allowed and approved of by the General Assembly of the Colony, 
sitting the 7th day of Jan'. 1694, that the Generall Councill in such 
cases shall be. deemed an Admiralty Court for the condemning of 
prizes, and other seafaring actions as occasion shall require. 

The above writen is a true copy, as attested, 

Weston Clarke, Secretary. 

VOL. IL — 40. 





CHAP. The treaty of Utrecht restored peace to the world. 
The colonies, relieved from tlie perils and the excitement 

1713. of war, found leisure to devote to their internal condition. 

•^pii^- Political discussions arose, and parties were formed upon 
questions of domestic policy, that hitlierto had been over- 
looked amid more exciting topics of thought. The j^aper- 
money system in v^arious forms was soon to^agitate society, 
commencing in Massacliusetts, where the bills of credit 

May 5. The General Assembly met as usual, at T^ewport, the 
day previous to the election, for the purposes of organiza- 
tion and of admission of freemen.' Tliis meeting, com- 
posed of the deputies and of all the freemen in person or 
by prox}^, was commonly called the Court of Election, and 
upon it devolved the choice of the upper house, or court 
of assistants, ten in number, and of the general officers, 
who were the governor, deputy -governor, recorder, sheriff, 
general treasurer, general attorney, and tw^o majors, one 
for the main, and one for the island towns. It was com- 
mon for the Assembly to fill vacancies in the list of assist- 

' This had long been an invariable custom. See Chap, xi., vol. i. p. 



ants from among those returned to tlie conrt of election as CHAP. 
(le})iities, and then to elect new deputies to the places 
tlius vacated. At this session the practice of electing a 1713. 
clerk of the Assembly, to serve in the house and not to be 
a member thereof, was introduced, and his salary fixed at 
six shillings a day.' A tax of five thousand pounds, pay- 
able in annual instalments for five years had been assess- 
ed, when the first bills of credit were issued, to secure 
their redemption, since which further issues of eight thou- 
sand pounds in bills had been made. To redeem these a tax 
for this amoimt was voted to take eftect as soon as the for- 
mer tax was paid in, and in the same manner. Tlie military 
stores belonging to the colony were given up by the com- 
missary ; those of a perishable nature were sold, and the 
rest properly cared for. The cannon were tarred, and laid 
upon logs on the governor's wduirf. It was ordered that 
the great highway from Pawtucket to Pawcatuck should 
be repaired, and a new one opened from Providence to 
Plainfield, through Warwick and West Greenwich.'' 
Sometimes it happened, in cases of emergency, tliat special 
courts were convened to try cases at the request of parties 
interested. It was ordered, that in such cases the party 
who was cast in the suit should pay the entire costs of 
these special courts. This was the third act of this na- 
ture, in restraint of litigation, that had been passed with- 

^ John Hammett was the first clerk chosen by the Assembly under this 
law. The next year he was elected by the town of Newport to be the 
schoolmaster at the public school for three years. At the October session 
the above act was repealed, so far as required the clerk to b» elected by 
the whole Assembly, and the deputies were left to choose a clerk or not as 
they saw fit, which had been the case ever since they were made a distinct 
branch of the Assembly in 1696. 

Another road to Plainfield from Providence had before been laid out by 
a different route, and both roads were received by the Assembly, October, 
1714. But the next year the old road was closed by order of the Assembly, 
July, 1715, as it intersected the new one in many places, and both could 
not well be sustained. 



CHAP, in five years/ For tliirtj-six years the comniissioned 
officers of militia had been chosen by the towns, contrary 

1713. to a provision of tlie charter requiring their election by 
the Assembly. The reason of this deviation was, that at 
that time the inhabitants were few, and for the most part 

June freemen. Of late some disturbances had occurred at 
tliese military elections. The act of 1677 was therefore 
repealed, and the ordinances of the charter npon this 

Oct. point were re-enacted. The autumn session at Warwick 
2^- Avas occupied in hearing cases of appeal from the Court 
of Trials, and then adjourned to meet at Newport. Grain 
had become scarce, owing to the extent of its exportation. 

^Tov. to foreign countries. A law was passed to prohibit this, 
2^- and the prices at which imported produce should be sold 
were fixed at ten shillings and sixpence a bushel for 
wheat, five shillings for rye, four shillings for corn and 
barley, and thirty shillings a hundred for flour and bis- 
cuit. The act was to be in force for one year. An ac- 
count of the stock of provisions in Newport was taken, 
and a committee was appointed to register imports of 

1713-14. these articles. Pedlars were forbidden, by a stringent 
statute, to sell dry goods anywdiere in the colony. Two 

Feb. thousand pounds in bills of credit were ordered to be 
burnt. This order was not obeyed, and the neglect of it 
served to increase the excitement fast rising in the colony 
npon the money question.^ 

The paper-money system had become a political ques- 
tion of absorbing interest. Massachnsetts was divided 
by it into three distinct parties. The smallest was the 
specie party, who desired to withdraw the bills of credit, 
and depend solely on a gold land silver currency. The 
other two were in favor of banks, based on radically dif- 
ferent principles ; one advocating a private bank system, 

* The first was in October, 1708, for the Court of Appeals ; the second 
in October, 1710, for the Court of Trials. 

^ Sir Edmund Andros died at this time, about February 20th, 1714, in 



which was the issuing of bills of credit, secured upon CIIAP. 
real estate, to be received as money by all the members 
of the banking company, but at no fixed relative value as 1714. 
to gold and silver. This i)arty was composed of persons 
whose affairs were more or less involved, or wdio owned 
real estate but had little ready money. Tlie other party 
favored a public bank or the loan of bills from the gov- 
ernment to any who would give mortgage security on their 
estates, with interest annually, to be applied to the support 
of government. This latter scheme had the most influen- 
tial supporters, and being considered less objectionable 
than the private bank by the specie party, ultimately 
received their su23port, and after a struggle of more than 
a year, obtained the ascendency, and a public bank, or 
loan of fifty thousand pounds, for five years was created.' 
In lihode Island the contest was narrowed to two parties, 
the specie or " hard money " party, and the paper money 
party ; the latter favoring the further issue of bills of 
credit, and subsequently adopting the public bank system 
of Massachusetts. The controversy was conducted with 
great bitterness in both these colonies, distracting whole 
communities, and even dividing families. In Providence 
a town meeting had been held the past year, and a pro 
test cent to the Assembly against the bills of credit. In 
tJie other towns the subject was no less earnestly dis- 
cussed. We are, therefore, prepared to find a greater in- 
terest in the elections, and more complete changes in the 
members of the Assembly than had occurred since the old 
struggle between the Quakers, and the war party, forty May 5. 
years before. At this election the specie party triumphed. 
Of the twenty-eight deputies, composing the lower house, 
but six of the old members were returned. The former 
treasurer had neglected to comply with the act requiring 

^ Hutchinson's Mass., ii. 207 — 9.* 

* This form of banking originated in South Carolina, where, in 1712, a "bank " or 
stock of £48,000 was created, and the bills loaned to individuals to be repaid in annual 
instalments. Massachusetts followed two years later, as above related. Hildreth. His. 
of U. S., ii. '285. 



CHAP, two thousand ]>ouiids of the bills to be burnt. A new 
treasurer was tlierefore chosen, and a new recorder was 

1714. also elected. The treaty of peace enabled the colony to 
reduce its military expenses, and to discharge the garrison 
at Fort Ann. 

^Kv The death of the deputy-goyernor, Walter Clarke, took 
place at this time. He had been in public life ever since 
Philip's war, during which he was first chosen deputy- 
goyernor. He had been four times elected goyernor,' 
and twenty-three times deputy-goyernor f for the last 
fifteen years he had been successiyely chosen to that 

J»"e office. The Assembly elected Henry Tew to fill the 
vacancy. They also repealed all the existing militia 
laws, including the recent act vesting in the Assembly the 
choice of officers. Against this latter proceeding, as 
being a violation of the charter, the governor and four 
others,' entered a protest upon the records. The first burn- 
ing of bills, to the amount of £1102, 86' 6d, all that could 
be collected for the purpose, was held in ^^resence of both 

Aug. ITpon the death of Queen Anne, a regency Avas imme- 
^' diately appointed, and George I. was proclaimed the 
Sept. same day. The news was brought to America by a mer- 
1^- chant ship. No orders respecting the proclamation were 
received, but the several colonies acted upon the news 
29. without awaiting official instructions. In Rhode Island 
the King was proclaimed by order of the governor and 
Oct. council, and the Assembly afterward assumed the expenses 
of the ceremony. They also voted to raise three troops 
of horse, one on the island and tw^o on the mainland, who 
were to choose their own officers, and to parade twice a 
1714--15. year. The three bridges, ordered three years before, were 

^ 1676, '86, '96, and '97. 

= In 1675. 1679 to 1685. 1700 to 1714 inclusive. 
^ Job Greene, assistant ; William Wanton, William Coddington, and 
Simon Ray, jr., representatives. 



at leiigtli completed.' Tlie Assembly were (!OTiv(;iie(l to ciiap. 
examine the ac(;ouiits of the overseers, which were cut J^^^, 
down, and the contractors were authorized to sue those iV.^-;'-^- 

. . . . rcl). 

delinquents who had not })aid their subscriptions. 28. 

The most complete chan<^c occurred at the spring elec- 1715. 
tion ; unparalleled, indeed, in the history of the State, so May 5. 
that it became known as the great re\T>lution." Depu- 
ty-governor Tew was dropped, and Joseph Jenckes elected 
ill his place, ^^nly tive out of the twenty -eight former 
inembers were retm-ned, and every assistant, save one, 
was removed. Yet, amid this storm of popular denuncia- 
tion, Gov. Cranston retained his popularity, and kept his 
phice. Both parties esteemed him too highly to remove 
so energetic and long tried an executive. The Yemassee 
war, now desolating South Carolina, caused many of the 
])lanters to remove. Several females, whose names indi- 
cate their Huguenot origin, fled to Rhode Island, bringing 
with them a few Indian slaves. These ladies petitioned June 
the Assembly for relief from the import duty upon their 
slaves, which was granted. Since the death of Wharton 
the interest of the colony had suffered for want of an 
agent in England, and Richard Partridge was now ap- 
pointed to that duty with a salary of forty pounds a year. 
The annual salary of the deputy-governor, which had long 
been but six ])ounds, was raised to twenty pounds. 

Wolves were still so numerous that the old bounty of 
one pound a head was raised to thirty shillings.' Besides 
the public bounties that were paid for wolves and foxes, 
the towns often ottered rewards^for the destruction of ver- 
min of various sorts within their preciiu-ts. Portsmouth 
paid one penny each for crows and blackbirds. Provi- 
dence paid threepence each for gray squirrels, and 
afterwards offered the same price for rats. Wildcats, at 

^ See May, lYll and 1712, and note on p. 47 ante. 

" Two years later, October, 1717, this bounty was raised to £5, "the 
wolves yet abounding, to the unspeakable damage of the inhabitants," and 
in October, 1732, the bounty was doubled. 



CHAP, a later ]3eriod became so destructive, tliat a "bounty of five 

.^-^^ shillings was offered for tliem by the Assembly, which 

l*^!^- was afterwards doubled.' 

The statute premium upon bills of credit paid into 
the treasury for taxes was repealed, and the bills Avere 
required to be received at their 23ar value hereafter. This 
was preparatory to the creation of a " bank," or loan, on 

July 5. the principle before described. The Assembly deemed it 
necessary to recite in a preamble their reasons for this 
act, which were, the scarcity of specie or other mediums 
of exchange, consecpient upon a decay of trade, the pros- 
tration of the agricultural interests, and the general dis- 
tress among all classes, while the recent w^ar expenses, 
and the present demands for money for works of public 
necessity could only be met, or remedied, by the measures 
proposed. Thirty thousand pounds in bills from five 
pounds to one shilling, were issued, and proportioned 
among the towns to be loaned to the people for ten years, 
at five per cent, interest, on mortgage security of double 
the value. The })ayment of interest w^as unfortunately 
secured by bonds instead of being included in the mort- 
gages, by reason of which a large part of the interest was 
afterward lost to the colony. One thousand pounds of 
this interest money were to be annually applied to redeem 
the bills, and the rest to be used for the support of gov- 
ernment. At a later session another issue of ten tliou- 
Oct. sand pounds was voted, making forty thousand this year, 

known as the " first bank." 
July. Newport, " as the metropolitan town in this colony," 
received a grant of funds derived from duties upon im- 
ported slaves, for the purpose of paving the street leading 
up to the colony house, and the duties accruing from the 
same source for seven years, were appropriated to pave 
other streets in the town, and to building a bridge across 

^ In February, 1733 — 4, a bounty of one pound was offered for bears, 
and the same sum for wild cats ; and in October, 1*736, the bounty on bears 
was raised to three pounds. 



Potowomut Eiver.' So many crimes liad of Lite l^eeii niAP. 
perpetrated by Indian slaves, that it was forbidden to im- 
port them. To prevent fraudulent voting, every freeman 1715. 
was required to endorse his name at full length upon his 
ballot. This was the lirst passage of a law which, although 
it was repealed the next year,^ was afterwards re-enacted, 
and continued in force until a very recent period. The 
punishment prescribed for illegal voting, was a fine of 
live pounds, or whipping, not to exceed twenty-one stripes, 
or imprisonment for one month, for each offence. More 
fugitives from South Carolina arrived, bringing nine Indian 
slaves into the colony. The Assembly remitted the duties, Aug. 
and permitted them to remain. 

The house of deputies was constantly changing its 1716. 
members, for they were elected semi-annually, and the -^^^ 
service was not so much coveted as it has been in later 
times. The returns of this branch of the Assembly, Avould 
indicate as great a revulsion in public sentiment as that 
of the past year, only five of the old members retaining 
their seats ; but the assistants and general officers re- 
mained nearly the same, and as these were elected an- 
nually, the day after the organization of the house, it is to 
them that we look with greater certainty for the proof of 
a political revolution. The influence of Governor Crans- 
ton is seen in the returns from Xewport, where his son 
and his nephew both appear among the new deputies. 
The latter, Col. John Cranston, already distinguished for 
his naval exploits in the late war, was chosen Speaker of 
the House. 

The most important act of this Assembly, one which 2. 
illustrates the principles of the founders of the colony, 
shows that the spirit of religious freedom, in its original 
brightness, survived the trials to which it had been sub- 

^ Called also " Reynolds' alias Hunt's River," in a later act. The bridge 
was completed the next year, at a cost of £49 5s. 6c?., being nearly £11 
less than the appropriation for it allowed. 

= May 2, 1716. 



CHAP, jected, and presents a striking contrast to the legislation 
n23on the same snbjeet that was passing at this very time 

1716. in a neighboring colony, was an act for the timely pre- 
venting " the varions churches from making use of the 
civil power for the enforcing of a maintenance for their 
respective ministers." To secure this object it was enact- 
ed that what maintenance or salary may be thought 
needful or necessary by any of the churches, congrega- 
tions, or societies of people now inhabiting, or that here- 
after may inhabit within any part of this go\'ernment, for 
the support of their, or either of their minister or minis- 
ters, may be raised by a free contribution, and no other 
ways.'' ' 

June Starve Goat Island was granted, upon petition of three 
1^- fishermen of Providence, for the purpose of curing and 
drying fish. 

July The small pox had again appeared in the colony. In 
26. Providence it is mentioned in the records, and at New- 
port a town meeting was hehl to order the immediate 
erecti(m of a hospital on Coaster's Harbor Island, to be 
finished within one month. 
Aug. We have before seen that ami)le provision for educa- 
^1- tion had early l)een made in Kewport and Providence. 

^ The preanil)le to this act refers to that portion of the charter of Chai lo;? 
II,, granting Hberty of, and adds, "it being a moral privih^ge 
due to every Christian, as by His said Majesty is observed, that true piety 
rightly grounded upon gospel principles, will give the best and greatest se- 
curity to sovereignty," &c. The custom of holding the signer of a docu- 
ment, or, as in this case, the grantor of a charter, responsible for the lan- 
guage or the ideas it contains, is sometimes suggestive of strange incon. 
gruities. To those who are familiar with the private life of " the merry mon. 
arch," or know the character of his chief favorites and counsellors, R-oches' 
ter, Buckingham, and the like, the terms of the declaration of Breda, 
and the above cited clause of the Rhode Island Charter, must appear as the 
'* beautiful sentiments " of a veritable and royal Joseph Surface. The im- 
pression of the absurdity of such language from such lips is only removed 
when we remember its official nature, and that the draft of the charter was 
made by John Clarke — but who penned the declaration of Breda, therein 
partly embodied, is unknown. 



Portsinoutli now moved in tlie matter. By the recom- chap. 
mendation of a committee to dispose of vacant lands on 
the sontli side of the town, "having considered how ex- 1710. 
cellent an ornament learning is to mankind, and the great ' J{J ' 
necessity there is in building of a public school house on 
said south side," the town made an appropriation for this 
object, and api)ointed a committee to build the school 
house, and to obtain contributions to finish it. The terms 
of the record would imply that a school already existed 
in the north, the old part of the town, but no trace of it 
remains. Six years later two other school houses w^ere 

At the fall session in Providence, Gabriel Bernon ])re- Oct. 

. 11 
sented a petition against one of the assistants, that caused 

some excitement. The charges were investigated, and Nov. 
being found to be false and slanderous, Bernon was re- ^' 
quired to send a Avritten acknowledgment to the offended 
party, and his own conduct at the examination being in- 
decorous to the Assembly, he was also compelled to ask 3. 
pardon in writing, of that body.'' 

At the annual election, the same general officers were 1717. 
continued. The accession of the House of Hanover caused 
many changes in colonial administration. In Massachu- 
setts, Gov. Dudley was succeeded by Col. Shute, who, 
soon after his arrival, proposed to visit Bhode Island, and May 1, 
a public reception was voted to him by the Assembly. 
The care of the Indian lands was assumed by the colony 
upon petition of Ninigret, and overseers were appointed Jnne 
to lease the same for the benelit,of the tribe, and to dis- 
possess all trespassers. There was so little public business Sept. 
at this time, that a quorum at the adjourned session could 
not be convened. The attendance at Warwick was unusu- Oct. 
ally small. Little was done beside the hearing of appeals 
and the passing of another act in restraint of litigation, 

' March 18, 1723 — they were ordered, one to be 16 feet square and the 
other 80x25 feet. Ports. Records. 

^ Both of these papers are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iv., 215. • 



CHAP, whereby reliearings in causes settled by default, or by 
^^^^ judgment obtained upon a bond were denied, except in 

1717. special cases, and then additional costs were to be taxed.' 
Many attempts had been made to collect and arrange the 
laws upon demand of the home government, that copies 
of them should be sent to Englarid. This had been par- 
tially accomplished by the perseverance of Lord Belle- 
mont seventeen years before ; but repeated efforts to put 
them in a form to print for the convenience of the people 
had failed. Of the many committees appointed for this 
duty, none had yet proved efficient. Another trial was 
now made, which was destined to terminate successfully 
in the publication of the earliest edition of the Laws of 
Rhode Island. The deputy-governor and two others, with 
the recorder^ were elected for this difficult task, and it was 
afterwards'' ordered that a copy of the charter should be 
printed with the laws. 

A memorial was presented in behalf of Asquasuthuks, 
granddaughter of Miantinomi, setting forth her claim as 

1718. lieir to the Narrraganset lands. A long reply was made 
-y-^y 2 to it at the next session, disproving her claim, and curiously 

enough tracing the title through old Ninigret, as the sur- 
vivor of, and joint tenant of the sachemdom with Casuck- 
qunce, who was the brother and successor of Miantinomi, 
after the murder of the latter, to his son the present 
Xiantic sachem.* The frauds practised upon Lidians oc- 
casioned the passage of an act to prevent their being sued 
for debt,' and forbidding their being held to service without 
June a valid consideration. It was ordered that a real estate of 

1 Public Laws, edit. 1719, p. 84. 

^ Joseph Jenckes, Thomas Fry, Nathaniel Nudigate and Richard Ward. 
3 Sept. 18, 1718. 

* This curious document is printed in full in R. 1. Col. Rec, iv., 229 — 33. 

* This act was chiefly intended to prevent drunkenness, by depriving 
the Indians of credit at the taverns. It was construed to apply to all In- 
dians, in all cases, so that in June, 1724, an explanatory act was passed, 
limiting its application to the descendants of old Ninigret, and subjecting 
all other Indians to action for debt, except for Uquors. 




tlie value of fifty pounds should entitle its possessor to he chap 
an inhabitant in the town where it was located if he chose 
to settle there.^ A new and very complete militia law 1718. 
was enacted, reorganizing the whole system. It is in tlii 
act that the title of " Captain, General, and Commander 
in-chief " was given to the governor, and that of Lieuten- 
ant-general to the deputy-governor. All the commis- 
sioned officers were to be chosen by the General Assem- 
bly, as required by charter. Every company was to 
parade twice a year, and a " general muster " or regimen- 
tal training was to be held once in five years. The power 
of the governor to ecpiip a force against privateers or 
pirates was confirmed, and the prizes taken were to enure 
to the captors. Whoever was disabled npon such a ser- 
vice was to be pensioned for life. The English law of 
primogeniture, whereby the whole real estate of an intes- 
tate descended to his eldest son, was modified by the 
statute of distributions giving to the widow one-third of 
the property, the remainder to be equally divided among 
the children, except that the eldest son should receive a 
double share. This law, with the exception of the latter 
clause, although repealed ten years later, was subse- 
quently re-enacted, and remains the same in substance at 
the present time. To discourage vexatious suits, two and 
sixpence for every ten miles of travel, and two shillings a 
day for attendance, were allowed to the party obtaining 
judgment and to the witnesses in the case, to be taxed in 
the bill of costs.^ At the adiourned session, a few old 
bills of credit were burnt, and sonre pirates at IS^ewport 9 * 
jail were held for trial till the King's will could be known 
whether they should be tried here or sent to England 
The governor and nearly one-half of the members were ab- 
sent from the meeting of the Assembly at Providence. 

^ The distinction between a resident and an inhabitant, should here be 
borne in mind. See chap, viii., vol. i., p. 250. 

* This W!is the fifth act in restraint of litigation that had been passed 
within ten years. 




CHAP. To facilitate business at the Court of Trials, it was forbid- 
•^^^ ■ den that more than two attorneys shonld plead on the 

1718. same side in any cause, one of whom must be a freeholder 
of the colony. Connecticut had passed laws regulating 
trade with the other colonies, and leyying duties upon 
them, which were injurious to her neighbors, and in yio- 
lation of the acts of trade and navigation. A recent order 
had been made by the Board of Trade, requiring all acts 
upon this subject to be sent to them for approval before 
being executed, but it had never been received in the 
colonies. In consequence of this, Kay, the collector of 

Nov. Newport, wrote to the Board, requesting that the order 
should be sent without delay.' 

1719. The first edition of the Laws of Eliode Island was 
printed in Boston early in the year. The Assembly took 

May eighty copies, of which one was given to each member, 
and the remainder distributed among the towns.^ Since 
the report of the commissioners on the Massachusetts line 
was made to the Assembly,^ much negotiation had been 

June had on the subject, many obstacles to a settlement had 
been surmounted, and the line had finally been run." A 

' Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. x., p. 175. See R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 244. 

^ Copies of this edition are now very rare. It has two title-pages, the 
first prefacing the charter, which occupies 8 pages, and then comes the 
title-page to the laws, which fill 102 pages. The imprint is on each title- 
page, and reads "Boston, in New England. Printed by John Allen, for 
Nicholas Boone, at the sign of the Bible, in Cornhill, 1719." On the second 
title-page the date, by error of type, is 1179. 

^ March 27, 1711. See p. 42, and note 2, ante. 

* May 25, 1715, Mass. appointed a committee to run the line according 
to the agreement made at Roxbury 17th Jan., 1710-11, and the next year, 
May, 1716, R. I named commissioners to act with them. Nothing more 
was done till, upon petition of the people of Mendon, a new committee was 
appointed Nov. 21, 1716. The season was too far advanced to proceed 
that winter. At the May session, 1717, the R. T. Committee was continued, 
with more ample powers. June 18, 1717, the Mass. Committee was directed 
to perform the work within four months. On 22d Nov., they were vested 
with equal powers with the R. I. men, but both committees felt bound by 
the Roxbury agreement of seven years before. To remove this obstacle 
the R. I. Assy, in June, 1718, vested their committee with plenary powers 



joint report of the commissioners of botli colonies was CIIA?. 
made, establisliing tlie line, and approved hj the Assem- 
blv. This settlement embraced only the northern line of 1719. 
the colony, and time has proved tliat even that adjnst- 
ment was not to remain undisturbed. The whole eastern 
line between the old colony of Plymouth and Ithode 
Island was still open, and remained for years the subject 
of frequent and bitter contention. 

John Clarke had devised certain real estate in New- 
port for the relief of the poor, and the education of youth. 
The bequest having been diverted from its object, a 
statute to punish breaches of trust in such cases was en- 
acted. The town councils were constituted a court of in- 
quiry to compel trustees to a proper discharge of their 
trusts, with power to issue execution upon the estates of 
delinquents. An appeal from their judgment might be 
taken to the governor and council. 

Parliament had lately passed an act to prevent frauds 
in the customs, wdierein the quality of pitch and tar im- 
ported from the plantations was directed to be examined. 
The act was transmitted bv William Popple, Secretary 
of the Board of Trade, to this colony, together with a 
statement of the Russian methods of making tar and 
raising hemp.^ The independence of -English restraint, 
assumed by the charter governments, was a source of great 
annoyance to the crown officers in those colonies, and 

to settle by compromise. The two committees met at Rehoboth, Oct. 
22, 1718, and agreed upon preliminaries, and, on the 29th, the R. I. men 
reported to the Assy. This report and the acts of Mass. on the subject, were 
ordered to be entered on the records, which was done Dec. 9th. On 12th 
May, 1719, the two committees again met on Wrentham Plain, and run the 
line to a point two miles west of Alum Pond, finishing it in two days. The 
report was signed at Five Mile River, May 14, 1719, presented, approved, 
and entered upon the records of both colonies in June. 

^ The autograph letter of Popple, with the method of preparing tar in 
Russia, is preserved in the Foster Papers, Miscellaneous, vol. 3. The reve- 
nue act, and the Russian mode of raising hemp, accompanying it, have dis- 



CHAP, many and bitter were the complaints^ made bj them to the 
Board of Trade. Caleb Ileathcote, in a very long letter 
1719. from Newport, mentioned the acts of Ehode Island that 
Sept. conflicted with the anthority of tlie crown, the chief of 
which Avere those for issuing bills of credit, and for regu- 
lating custom fees ; the latter being specially grievous to 
the writer. lie relates the seizure of some smuggled 
claret wine that was rescued by a mob, and how immedi- 
ately afterward, John Wanton, to please the people, had 
issued a warrant against the collector u])on a charge of 
extortion in clearing vessels. Kay was acquitted by the 
governor, and at once arrested a second time by Wanton 
on a similar charge, and committed witliout bail. These 
proceedings occasioned the letter in which Heathcote com- 
plains of the charter, and urges that all laws should be 
approved in England before being operative in Rhode 

8. At the September session, nothing of interest occurred. 

At Warwick the Assembly empowered the town councils 

28.' to preserve and improve the fishing in their rivers, for- 
bidding the setting of weirs, dams, or nets, and also estab- 
lished vendue masters in every town, to be chosen at the 
annual election, whose fees were to be two and a half per 
cent, on the amount of sales, and who were to settle with 
the owners of the goods within five days. An order hav- 
ing been received to send home a maj) of the colony, a 
committee was appointed to run the lines and make a 
chart.'' This revived the question of the Western boun- 
dary line, which had been agreed upon seventeen yeai's 
before, but had not yet been run by a joint commission 
of the two colonies, although there had of late been some* 
negotiation to that end, and committees had already been 

1 Original in Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 15. See R. I. Col. 
Rec., iv. 258. 

Joseph Jeuckes, Randal Holden, Wm. Wanton, and Thomas Fry, were 
the committee, with John Mumford as surveyor. 



appointed for the purpose/ Prompt action was now re- chap. 
quired, but when the committees met at Warwick, tliey ' 
could not agree as to their powers. Those of Connecticut 1720. 
were authorized only to run the twenty-mile line west -^^^^^ 
from AVarwick Neck, while the Rhode Island men were 
required to run all the lines, and would not permit the 
others to join with them in any part of the survey unless 
tliey would unite in the whole. It was, however, agreed 
that they should accompany the Khode Island men while 
they run the twenty-mile line, which was completed the 13. 
next day, and a report was drawn by the surveyor of the is. 
Connecticut commission, to be presented to his govern- 
ment.'^ The Rhode Island survey was conq^leted, and May 4. 
the map presented at the next session. The Connecticut 
Assembly mildly resented the treatment their commission- 12. 
ers had received, and directed a letter to be sent to Rhode 
Island, expressing their surprise, which was done.^ Tlie 
Rhode Island Assembly at once sent a commission to take 
depositions at Westerly, respecting the acts of the royal 
commissioners of 166-1:, preparatory to presenting the case 
to the King, and also despatched a messenger to Connec- 
ticut to learn whether that colony would abide by the 
agreement formerly made as to the boundary. 

^ June 22, 1703, R. I. appointed surveyors to run the line according to 
the agreement made at Stonington, May 12. Connecticut neglected the 
matter, and thus it rested till June 15, 1714, when the R. I. Assy, em- 
powered the governor to appoint a joint committee with Conn, to run the 
hnes. In Nov., 1716, the R. I. Committee was appointed. In May, 1719, 
the Conn. Assy, ordered a survey, in connection with a R. I. Commission, 
to ascertain the terminus of a twenty-mile line west from Warwick Xeck, 
and thus to establish the Eastern line of that colony, and notified R. I. ac- 
cordingly. On 16th June, the R. 1. Assy, named commissioners to unite 
with them to run the whole division line, and on 8th Sept., ordered them to 
meet on 6th Oct., which the Conn, men foiled to do, so that on 28th Oct. 
the Assy, instructed their men to run the line alone, unless Coim. would 
join. Both commissioners met, as above, April 12, 1720, at Warwick, 

This Report, from Conn. Records, Colonial Boundaries, vol, i., Doc. 
208, is in R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 273. 

» R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 275, 
VOL. II, — 41 


vy. Another proof of tlie resjiect for the riglits of conscience, 
^ entertamed in Ivhode Ishmd, was given by this Assembly. 
0. The words " as in the presence of God," in the engage- 
ment given to the depnties, being objected to by many 
persons, whose service was thns lost to the colony, they 
were ordered in fntnre to be stricken from the form. The 
population of Providence, then including the entire coun- 
ty, had increased so much that great inconvenience was 
felt in the more remote portions of the township at attend- 
ing the military parades. The north-west part was there- 
fore made a separate militar}^ district, havhig its own 

The letter of Gov. Cranston, explaining the map, 
briefly stated the disputes between this colony and her 
neighbors. The territory claimed by Rhode Island, was 
bounded by red lines, within which were green lines to 
show what she actually possessed, the disputed tracts 
being between the two lines. As these disputes were 
soon to be referred to the King in council, this call for 
the map was timely.' 
y Connecticut having refused to abide by the agreement 
of the commissioners 6f 1703, the Assembly met at New- 
port and appointed the deputy-governor, Joseph Jenckes, 
its joint agent with Partridge, to bring both boundary 
disputes before the King. Three hundred pounds were 
voted for this purpose, and Jenckes was empowered to 
draw for seven hundred pounds besides ; sixty pounds were 
given him for an outfit, and the same sum annually was 
allowed for his salary, together with his expenses. Con- 
necticut was duly notifiexl of this action, that she might be 
prepared to meet it. The letter wa-itten on this occasion, 
charges that through tlie private and clandestine decep- 
tion of your agent. Col. Winthrop, you got your charter 
to be bounded upon the Karraganset River, contrary to 

^ The original letter, but Avithoutthe map, is in Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, 
vol. X., Q. 206, and is printed in R. I. C. R., iv. 279. 



his solemn proniise and engagement to our agent, Mr. CIIAP. 
John Chirke." ' Earely, indeed, in the course of this pro- 
tracted and angry controversy, had Ehode Ishind retorted 1720. 
upon Winthrop the abuse so freely heaped hy her enemies ^^^^^ 
upon Clarke, and which was ecpially unjust to hoth, al- 
though she had hotter reason for doing so, than they had 
to assail her ao-ent. But the secret history of that trans- 
action had not then been divulged. Ilhode Island only 
knew the deep wrong she was suffering, and which she 
had reason to suppose was due to the duplicity of Win- 
throp. That the Atherton company had a secret agent in 
London, capable of any infamy, was known in that day 
only to the parties interested, and they were her bitterest 

The Assembly met again at Xewport, to commission 27. 
Doctor John Jenckes to attend upon his father, and appro- 
priated thirty pounds for his outfit, and the same sum for 
his salary. Testimony was taken concerning the source ^^^J,?- 
of Pawcatuck Eiver. Every thing being ready, Rhode 
Island again notified Connecticut to prepare for the trial, 18. 
informing her of the day on which Jenckes was to sail. 
Gov. Saltonstall replied in a very courteous letter to Gov. 
Cranston, full of kind expressions of personal regard for 22. 
himself and for Col. Jenckes. The next day he sent to 
Mr. Dummer, agent of Connecticut, a brief of the con- 23. 
trovei'sv, statino- that Rhode Island claimed ten miles west 
of Pawcatuck River, but for which enhanced claim the 
dispute would not have been revived. The old claim over 
the vrhole of Xarraganset to the bay, was thus virtually 
waived, as by the agreement of 1703, and the difierence 
rested upon what was the real source or head of Pawca- 
tuck River.^ This varies from the ofiicial letter of Con- 

' R. I. Hist. Soc, Conn. MSS., vol. ii., p. 56. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 276. 

^ This subject is fully discussed iii chap, ix., and its appendices C. & E., 
vol. i., pp. 298-301, -611-6, 383-6. 

^ The above letters are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 280-3. John 
Jenckes died shortly after reaching England. 


CHAP, necticiit, to the Board of Trade, accompanying a map of 
t^^^^ colony, wlierein the old claim to Karraganset is ear- 

1720. nestly urged.' Nothing remained to be done by the As- 
^g^* sembly at Providence. Jenckes had already arrived in 
England, and in connection with Partridge, presented a 

1720-1 petition to the King for redress,"" which was referred to the 

Jan. 3. committee oh appeals, who, after hearing both parties, 

Feb. ordered Dummer to return an answer in writing:, with- 

■ 20 . . . 

in one week, and postponed a rehearing till the next sum- 
mer. Dummer's answer rested upon the old plea that Nar- 
25^ raganset and Pawcatuck Rivers were different streams, 
and denied that Connecticut claimed any thing beyond 
what her charter included.^ 

A singular tradition relating to Block Island had its 
origin about this time, in the loss, near that place, of the 
emigrant ship Palatine from Holland, bound to Pennsyl- 
vania. Most of the passengers had died from disease and 
hardship, caused, as they supposed, by a design of the 
•captain to get possession of their effects. Some seventeen 
of the survivors were landed on the island, all but three 
of whom died. One lady who had much gold and silver 
plate on board, refused to land. The ship floated off the 
rocks and soon after disappeared, never to be heard from 
again. One year later, a curious irradiation, like a blaze 
of fire, emitting luminous rays, was seen to rise from the 
ocean near the north end of the island. This appearance 
was considered supernatural, and from its supposed con- 
nection with the mysterious crime that involved the ill- 
fated ship, was known as tlie Palatine light. It appeared 
at irregular intervals down to 1832, since which it has not 
been seen. This light has been the theme of much learn- 
ed discussion within the present century, and while the 
superstition connected with it is of course rejected, science 

1 Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 2. 

^ Br. S. P. ()., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 8. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 283. 
' Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 8. 



has failed thus far in giving to it a satisfactory explana- CHAP. 

At the spring election, John Wanton was chosen 1721. 
(lepntj-governor. Samuel Bissell of Newport, a black- 
smith, petitioned the Assembly for encouragement to 
carry on the manufacture of nails, and received a loan of 
two hundred pounds from the treasury for that purpose.^ 
The salaiy of the assistants, paid by the colony, was fixed 
at ten pounds, and that of the deputies at six shillings a 
day, instead of three shillings as formerly, to be paid by 
the towns. A second bank, or public loan of forty thou- 
sand pounds in bills of credit was made for similar rea- 
sons, and on the same terms as the former loan. Hemp 
or flax was to be received in payment of the interest, the 
former at eightpence, the latter at ten2:>ence a pound, one- 
half of which was to be divided ratably among the towns, 
and the other half was appropriated to repairing Fort Ann. '^^^^ 
So scarce had specie become, that an English halfpenny 
was received at three halfpence. Col. Jenckes had re- 
turned from England to collect further evidence in the 
w^estern boundary suit. Connecticut, equally alive to her 
interest, sent to her agent a very long and elaborate argu- 
ment with voluminous testimony in defence of her claim. ^ 20. 

The small-pox was raging with great violence in Bos- 
ton, where it had been introduced from the West Indies 
in the spring." In Newport a quarantine building had 
been erected by order of the town^ on Coasters' Harbor, 

^ See Appendix I., for further information about the Palatine light. 

^ The manufacture of iron, in various forms, has always been a promi- 
nent branch of industry in this vicinity. It is said, that the first cold cut 
nail in the world was made in 1777, by Jeremiah Wilkinson, of Cumberland, 
R. L, who died in 1832, at the advanced age of 90 years. 

' The letter of Gov. Saltonstall to Mr. Dummer, sent at this time, occu- 
pies forty pages of manuscript, exclusive of the testimony, and is in Conn, 
documents, vol. ii., pp. 73-113, in R. I. Hist. ?oc. 

* In Boston there were 5,889 cases, of whom 844 died. Hutchinson's 
Mass., ii. 273-6. 

' April 26. 



CHAP, at some distance from the hospital. The Turkish discov- 
ery of inoculation had just been made known in England,^ 

1721. but was violently opposed in Massachusetts by the medi- 
cal profession, only one of whom, Dr. Boyleston, dared to 
practise it in opposition to popular prejudice. Even a 
bill to prohibit it passed tlie House of Representatives, 
but was stopped in the council. The General Assembly 

^^^^ passed an act in order to prevent the disease from spread- 
loT ing to this colony, requiring all goods brought from Mas- 
sachusetts, by land or sea, to be aired and cleansed, all 
vessels from infected ports to be cpiarantined, and travel- 
lers from that colony to be detained five days on the 
frontier, under heavy penalties. 

Kew York and Massachusetts both presented claims 

Oct i^pon this colony for expenses in the late war, which the 
25. Assembly rejected as Rhode Island had paid her full pro- 
portion. The committee to whom the boundary petitions 
had been referred a year ago, desired to have the opinion 
] 721-2 Board of Trade on the subject before rendering a 

Ji^n. decision. They therefore referred it to that Board to as- 
certain the boundaries of the two colonies, and a few days 
later the Duke of Hamilton, whose ancient claim included 
the disputed lands, sought to revive that long-slumbering 

24. (piestion by asking for a copy of the report made upon 
the petition of his grandmother, the late duchess, twenty- 
five years before.^ 

-p^^ Collector Kay wrote to Secretary Popple against the 

27. late issue of bills of credit, the efi'ect of which had 
been to raise the value of all produce, and to encourage 
speculation in lands to the exclusion of new settlers.^ 
These colonial banks were in some sense a violatiou of the 
acts of trade, the renew^al of which w^as from time to time 

1722. from the colonies, with bonds for their proper 

^ See chap, xii., vol. i., p. 523, note 1. 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 8 and 9. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 291. 
See chap, xii., vol. i., pp. 537, 538. 

* Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 12. 



observance. The Board of Trade applied to tlie Attorney- CIIAP. 
General to furnish the form of a bond, to be sent out with 
fresh instructions to the colonies. The desired draft not 1722. 
being sent, the request was renewed.^ The form of the ^^'J' 
bond was sent, to be entered into by the governor of 24. 
Rhode Island, the location of which colony was therein 
described as being " in the West Indies in America." 

At the election, Joseph Jenckes was re-elected deputy- May 2. 
governor in plac^e of John Wanton, and the salary of that 
office was raised to thirty pounds. Additional depositions 
were taken upon the western boundary, and sent home, 
with the agreement of 1703, certified by the governoi'. June 
At the same time Dummer presented to the Board his 7. 
very long and elaborate argument in behalf of Connecti- 

The town of Kingstown had become sufficiently popu- 
lous to form two towns, and a committee was appointed 19. 
to make the division. Each was to have one assistant, 
which was an apparent violation of the charter prescrip- 
tion that there should be ten assistants, to be chosen by 
general ticket. Hence arose the custom of choosing the 
assistants, one from each town, which is continued at the 
present day in the constitution of the State Senate, com- 
posed of one member from every town in the State. Sev- 
eral subdivisions of military districts, similar to those al- 
ready made in Providence, were accorded to other towns. 

Questions of admiralty jurisdiction had risen between 
Hhode Island and Massachusetts, which were referred to 
the Lords of Admiralty, who applied to the Board of Trade 28. 
for a copy of the charter and of the order in council, is- 
sued nineteen years before, restraining Ehode Island from 
exercising that power. Tlie charter was furnished, but July 7. 
tlie order was not, and that with the other papers relating 
to the quarrel with Dudley npon this subject, were again 
applied for, but the matter proceeded no further.^ 10. 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xxxi., pp. 243, 245. 
^ See chap xiii., pp. 17, 18, ante. 



CHAP. An exclusive bounty for ten years, of one pound for 
each bolt of hemp duck made in Ehode Island, that should 

1722. be equal to Holland duck, was granted to William Bor- 

^g^- den.' The argument of Ehode Island in reply to Connec- 
ticut was sent to the Secretary of the Board of Trade, by 

Oct. 8. Mr, Partridge, with a letter asking a speedy hearing " in 
case they should not think fit to report in our favor with- 
out, which its not improbable they may, the manifest 
plainness and justice of our case considered." An Indian 
war, that was to last three years, had broken out at the 
eastward, instigated by the French. Gov. Shute applied 
31. to Rhode Island for aid. A messenger was sent by the 
Assembly to arrange with him for the quota of men or 
money to be furnished by this colony, but we can find no 
record of what was done in the matter. 

1722-3 At the hearing before the Board of Trade in the case 
of Connecticut and Bhode Island, a vast mass of testi- 
mony with all the original evidence from the time of the 
charter, a period of sixty years, was presented by the 

^22^^^ rival parties.^ The Board rendered a very full report to 
the Privy Council, condensing the arguments on either 
side, deciding that Rhode Island, if not technically right, 
was clearly so morally, and concluding with the wish that 
both colonies might voluntarily surrender their charters 
and be annexed to Xew Hampshire ! ^ 
Feb. The Kingstown committee reported to the Assembly 
at Providence, a line of division between l^orth and South 
Kingstown, which was accepted, and the townsmen were 
ordered to proceed with their elections' as other towns. 

^ A loan of £500 for three years, on mortgage security, was afterward, 
May, 1725, made to him for assistance in the manufacture of duck, and in 
June, 1728, another loan of £3,000 for ten years was made, he to manufac- 
ture 150 bolts of duck annually. 

^ Nearly all the documents referred to in this year, except the final Re- 
part of the Board of Trade, are found in Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., 
filling almost the whole volume. 

' Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xxxi., pp. 280-96. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 
303-8. • 



Charters were prepared for botli towns, tlie old one being ciTAP. 

void by the act of division. North Kingstown retained 

the records and was declared to be the older town. 1723. 

A great storm that occurred this winter, carried away 
the pier at Block Island. To construct a new one the 
people of New Shoreham were authorized by the Assembly May 3. 
to collect subscriptions in tlie colony, and to levy a tax 
upon the town ; and afterward received an appropriation June 
of a hundred and twenty -three pounds for that object. 

Extensive piracies had been recently committed in the 
West Indies and along the American coast by two sloops, 
which, sailing northward, at length attacked the British 
sloop of war Gi-eyhound, of twenty guns, off Long Island, lo. 
mistaking her for a merchant ship. On discovering their 
error, one of the piratical vessels escaped, the other was 
captured and taken to Newport with her crew of thirty-six 
men. The Assembly ordered a military force to guard 
the prison. An admiralty court was summoned to try j^,iy 
the prisoners. William Dummer, Lieutenant-governor 10. 
of Massachusetts, president ; Eichard Ward, register ; 
Jahleel Brenton, jr., provost marshal ; w!tli the governor 
and collector of Rhode Island, four of the Massachusetts 
council, and some other officers formed the court. The 
trial occupied two days, resulting in the conviction of 
twenty-six of the pirates, who were sentenced to be hanged. 11-12. 
It was a great event in the history of those times.^ Tlie 
execution took place on Gravelly Point, called also Bull's 19. 
Point in the printed account, and the bodies were buried 
on Goat Island shore, between high and low-water mark. 

The Privy Council, to whom the report of the Board 
of Trade upon the boundary dispute with Connecticut, was 
made in March, referred it back to the Board to inquire IT. 
of the agents whether their principals would agree to the 
recommendations therein contained, and if the agents were 

* The trial was published in pamphlet form in Boston, and is reprinted 
in full in Bull's Memoirs of R. I., which appeared in the R. I. Republican, 
1832-6, and are now being republished in the Newport Mercury 



CHAP, not empowered to treat on that subject, then to direct 
them to apply to their respective colonies for instructions 
1723. thereupon. Nor was this dispute the only matter tliat 
'^17^ gave trouble to the home government. The order in coun- 
cil, requiring a bond in the sum of two thousand pounds 
for the taking the oath and for the due observance of the 
acts of trade and navigation, was considered a great hard- 
ship by this colony. For twenty-five years Gov. Cranston 
had taken the required oath and faithfully kept it, so that 
this new movement Avas felt to be oppressive and in viola- 
tion of the chartered rights of Rhode Island. Partridge, 
the agent, had protested against it in a petition to the 
King at the time the order and instructions to the Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts were sent over, fifteen months 
before, and had asked for its repeal. The council to whom 
his petition was referred, now in turn referred it to the 
26. Board of Trade to inquire what powers were reserved to 
the King in the Rhode Island charter, and how far the 
oaths had been taken, and the acts of trade observed in 
the colony. 

31. The first alms house in Rhode Island was erected at 
this time in Newport, by a vote of the tow^n. 

The northern boundary line had been run according 
to the terms of the compromise agreement at Rehoboth, 
whereby a tract one mile iu width, belonging to Rhode 
Island by the former agreement made at Roxbury, was 
conceded to Massachusetts, upon which, it j)roved, that 
some farms had already been laid out by Providence men. 
The understanding w^as, that such farms should be con- 
firmed to their owners in consideration of this concession, 
and that Mr. Belling should have a tract of seven hundred 
acres which he had improved within the line of Provi- 
dence. Local geography was but little understood in 
those days, as we have before seen in the case of Narra- 
ganset,' so that to carry out the Rehoboth agreement, this 

^ See chap, ix., vol. i., pp. 298, 382. 



furtlier explanation was necessary. Tlie Massaclnisctts criAP. 
council voted to confirm the Providence titles, but the ' 
representatives refused to concur. The government of 1723. 
Rhode Island therefore wrote to Gov. Shute, that if the 
House should non-concur, upon a reconsideration of the 
matter, they would expect Massachusetts to appoint a 
committee, in connection w^ith Hhode Island, to measure 
off the said mile of land to the town of Providence, ac- 
cording to the Roxbury agreement.' Thus this dispute, 
settled at Five Mile River, was renewed by the failure of 
Massachusetts to confirm the promise of their commis- 
sioners. The General Assembly took no action upon the Sept. 
subject at present. 

The government of Connecticut, having received from 
their agent the j^roposal to surrender the charter, ad- Oct. 
dressed a brief reply to the Board of Trade, declining to 
do so ; and recognizing the boundary question as the oc- 
casion of this startling proposition, they avowed their 
readiness to abide forever by the King's decision upon it. 

Although Bristol county w^as still under the jurisdic- 
tion of Massachusetts, and was destined to remain so for 
many years, whatever of interest occurred there at this 
period, may properly be included in the history of the 
State. By the letters of Rev. N. Cotton, of the Congre- 
gational Church at Bristol, we learn that two great calam- 
ities at this time visited the town. The first was a destruc- 
tive fire, whereby two valuable buildings, with " sundry 
English goods," were consumed, and two nights later a 30. 
violent storm broke up all the wharves, destroyed the 
bridges and drove several vessels on shore, doing damage 
to the extent of two thousand pounds.'* 

At the autumn session of the Assembly, the letter of Xov. 
Richard Partridge containing the proposal for a surrender 

^ See pp. 42, 62, and notes, ante. MS. Letters and Papers of Mass., 1st 
series, vol. ii., p. 124, in R. I. Hist. Soc. R. I. Col. Rec., iv. 335. 

^ MS. Letters and Papers of Mass., 1st series, vol. i., p. 130, in R. L 
Hist. Soc. 



CHAP, of the charter was presented, and an answer returned at 
J^^^ great length. In this reply the colony rehearsed their 
1723. early history, and then proceeded to answer the four 
points npon which the proposition was based, arguing 
that such a course would neither be for the interest of 
Great Britain, nor tend to quiet the dispute, nor aid the 
defence of the country, nor promote trade. In the course 
of the argument, they took occasion to read a lesson in 
geography to the Lords of Trade for proposing annexa- 
tion to Kew Hampshire. This lesson was further en- 


-peb. forced by Partridge in his letter to the Board, inclosing 
10. that from Rhode Island, wherein he presents an abstract 
of the inclosure, and asks that a hearing upon the origi- 
nal question of boundary may be speedily granted.' 

An Episcopal Church had already been formed, three 
years before in Bristol, under the care of Mr. Orem, who 
was succeeded by Kev. John Usher, the past year, both 
having been sent out by the Society for propagating the 
Gospel. The first Episcopal Church in Providence, and 
the third in the colony, as it then existed, owed its origin 
to the persevering piety of Gabriel Bernon, the first signer 
of the petition for Trinity Church in Newport, twenty- 
five years before. Pev. James McSparran, who for two 
years past had been settled over St. Paul's Church in 
Kingstown, as a missionary from the English Society, was 
the first to conduct public service according to the forms 
of the church of England in this town.* A sufficient sum 
was raised by subscription to erect a church, which was 
built this year upon the spot now occupied by St. John's 
Church, and after standing eighty-seven years, gave j)]2ice 
to the present beautiful structure.' Pev. George Pigot 

^ R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 334. All the documents above referred to in this 
year, are in Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi. 

^ Dr. Humfries assigns that honor to Honeyman, and McSparran claims 
it for himself in '* America Dissected," written in 1752. The Bernon Papers 
settle the question in favor of the latter, Updike's Narrt. Church, p. 46. 

' Humfries says, the frame was raised on St. Barnabas' day, 1722. Pres. 



was the first settled iiiissioiiaiy over this clmrch. Hie CIIAP. 
Puritan Church, ah'eady introduced hi the southern por- ' 
tions of the colony, which, for the past four years, had 1723 4 
existed as a distinct society in Providence, also erected 
their first house of worship here during this year. This 
building, known at present as " the Old Town House," 
after being occupied as a church for seventy-one years, 
was sold to the town, and the following year the new 
church, standing on the spot now occupied by the First 
Congregational Society, was dedicated to religious ser- 
vice. ^ 

Tliis winter the Assembly passed the celebrated act re- Feb. 
quiring a freehold qualification of the value of one hun- 
dred pounds, or an annual income of two pounds derived 
from real estate, to entitle any man to become a freeman. 
The eldest son of a freeman mic^ht vote in rio^ht of his 
father's freehold. Those who had before been admitted 
freemen, although possessing no freehold, retained their 
franchise. This law, requiring a permanent interest in 
the soil as a prerequisite to electoral privilege, had become 
necessary from the influx of new settlers in the colony, 
large numbers of whom were admitted as freemen at every 
session of the Assembly. The spirit of English law was 
thereby preserved, an essential point to be cared for by a 
colony whose institutions were so frequently a subject of 
inquiry by the home government, while the peculiar prin- 
ciples of the people were thus protected by excluding from 
a voice in legislation all transient residents, from the 
neighboring colonies, who had not a vested interest in the 
Avelfare of the State. For one hundred and twenty years 

Styles says, it was built (by which he probably meant completed) in 1723, 
Avhich was the time when Pigot the missionary at Stratford, Conn., left his 
charge to come to Providence. 

' This edifice was destroyed by fire in 1814. The next year, the present 
substantial and elegant stone church was erected. This church and society, 
generally known as the Benevolent Congregational Society, by which name 
it was incorporated in Oct., 1770, is now under the pastoral charge of Rev. 
E. B. Hall, D.D., and formed the first Unitarian Church in Rhode Island. 



CHAP, this law remained nnchantred, save in the vahie of the 
required freehold, and the same instinct of self-preserva- 

1723-4 tion, the same determination of the people to keep in their 
own hands the framing of their own laws, dictated the 
provision in the present constitution of the State requiring 
all men of foreign birth to hold a small amount of real 
estate before being entitled to vote. Another act that 
has had less of historic celebrity, but of which the princi- 
j)le has been adopted extensively in the western States, 
and has caused much discussion in its application by them 
to the Federal Congress, was one allowing freemen of the 
towns, who were not freemen of the colony, to A'ote for 
deputies. A law forbidding this had been recently passed, 
and was now repealed, " it being found inconvenient." 
It was, however, a matter of less importance in Rhode 
Island, where those who were freemen of the towns were 
always made free of the colony upon request to the As- 
sembly, than it is in its later application by some 
of the New States, to their members of Congress, 
where it becomes a grave question of international law, 
whether those whom the constitution of the United 
States excludes from a voice in the general government, 
should be permitted to use that power because con- 
ferred upon them by State law. But this is not the place 
to discuss such a point ; suffice it to say, that good or 
bad, the principle had its origin in this State, and is 
found, with the reasons for it, in the above-mentioned 
repeal of a statute. 

2~24 The same general officers were re-elected for the ensuing 

May 6 7®^^- nearly sixty years the deputies had been ex- 

empt from arrest or attachment during their term of office. 
This exemption was now limited to the period of the ses- 

June sions and for three days before and after each session. A 
new ferry was established to run from Warwick Is'eck to 
the north end of Prudence Island. 

Oct. 8. The Connecticut Assembly once more appointed com- 
missioners with full j)owers to arrange the boundary line, 



and Kliode Island did the same. The scarcity of small CHAP, 
silver and copper money had led to a practice of tearing 
the bills of credit into fractional portions for the purpose 1724. 
of making change.^ An act was passed to prevent 
their mutilation. Gov. Talcott gave commissions to 25. 
the men appointed by Connecticut to settle the boundary. 
The Rhode Island Assembly struck from the act appoint- 29. 
ing the boundary commissioners the words " to our bounds 
given us by our charter," to enable them to make a final 
adjustment by compromise. A messenger was sent to 
Connecticut to exchange copies of the acts, and commis- 
sions upon this subject. The war with the eastern Indians 
still continuing after the destruction of ]N orridgewock, 
Massachusetts again applied to Rhode Island to furnish 
her quota of troops, and to unite in sending messengers 
to Canada. The request for aid was declined in a letter, 
stating the reasons for refusal, but offering to send a 
remonstrance jointly with Massachusetts, to Yaudreil, 
governor of Canada, against the encouragement offered 
by the French to the Indian enemy.^ Owing to a failure 
of the crops, the exportation of grain was forbidden. The 
treasurer was directed to buy two thousand bushels of 
Indian corn to be sold at cost to the people, no person in 
I^ewport to have over four bushels at a time, nor more 
than eight bushels in the other towns. 

Gov. Cranston's commission to the boundary commit- 1724-5 
tee, contained full instructions and advice how they should -^^ * 
proceed, and clothed them with ample powers according 
to the act of Assembly.^ The next day Gov. Talcott in- 
structed the Connecticut commissioners in a similar man- 13, 
ner, and authorized them to recede from the bounds set in 
their charter. Both parties thus met at Westerly, pre- 
pared to compromise, but no report of their proceedings 17. 
can be found. It is probable that advices from England 

^ It will be rcmeinbered that a little more than twenty years ago, after 
the commercial revulsion of 1837, a similar difficulty was met by the issuing 
of fractional bank bills of the denominations of .$1 25, $1 50, and §1 75. 

2 R. 1. Col. Rec, iv. 351-353. ^ R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 35-1-348. 


as to tlie progress of the suit led them to postpone any 
action, yet we find that Connecticut appointed another 
committee for the same purpose in the spring. 

Yery little of interest occurred during the year. Tlie 
Sabbatarians of Westerly were complained of, for working 
. on Sunday, to the annoyance of their neighbors, and the 
5. scandal of the colony abroad. The Assembly advised 
and cautioned them " that, although the ordinances of 
men may not square with their private principle, yet they 
must be subject to them, for the Lord's sake." Collector 
Kay kej^t the Board of Trade advised of all laws respect- 
ing bills of credit and other matters, supposed to conflict 
with the royal authority. A recent act continuing the 
two issues of these bills in Rhode Island, was sent home 
10. by him at this time.^ The mode of laying out highways 
in the towns was prescribed. An act for docking and 
June cutting off estates' tail, pursuant to the laws of Englaiid, 
was passed, creating the proper offices for that purpose. 
The mainland towns were empowered to build a house of 
correction for vagrants, and " to keep mad persons in." 
Tliis is the earliest law in which mention is made of in- 
sanity in Rhode Island, as well as the first aj^proach to 
the disciplinary and reformatory institutions so numerous 
and well conducted at the present day in tins State. 

The regular meetings of the Quakers, or Society of 
Friends, had long been organized, and their principles 
had rapidly extended in this and the neighboring colonies. 
Besides their meetings on the island, before noticed, the 
Greenwich montlily meeting, embracing members living 
west of Karraganset Bay, had been in existence twenty- 
six years, and two meeting-houses were already erected 

July in Providence county.^ It was now proj)osed to build a 

^ Be. S. P. 0., vol. xi., R. 31. 

^ The first of these, called after the division of the county into town- 
ships, "Lower Smithfield," was built in 1704, the next, or "Upper Smith- 
field," at Woonsocket, in 1719. For more minute details of the Quakers 
and other religious societies, than the limits of this work will permit, see 
Staples' Annals of Providence, chapter vii. 



tliird meetiii«:-liouse in the town of Providence, and five CHAP, 
years later the fourth in the county was erected in what 
is now Cranston. The military spirit of Rhode Ishmd, 1725. 
ever ready to enlist in warlike enteri)rise, placed no re- 
straint upon the j^eaceful followers of Fox. The law sus- 
tained them in the indefeasible rights of conscience, while 
it equally maintained the prowess of the colony amid the 
continual conflicts of a martial age. 

By a law that had been in operation four years, com- ^^t. 
mon drunkards were to be posted by town councils, and 
dealers were forbidden to sell spirits to such persons. It 
was found that they would get supplied in neighboring 
towns, to prevent which it was ordered that drunkards 
should be posted in the adjoining towns as well as in 
their own. A second ferry from Newport, to run from 
Easton's point to Jamestown, was established. 

To meet the action of the Connecticut Assembly in 1725-6 
May, the Ehode Island Assembly, at a special session, J<'in- 
again appointed commissioners on the boundary ; but 
the matter had progressed too far in England to render 
their proceedings important. The Board of Trade, whose 
report, made three years before, had been referred back to 
them by the Privy Council, made a second report,' upon 25. 
the map and new evidence since presented, still more fa- 
vorable to Pliode Island, recommending that the boun- 
dary be fixed at the green lines,on the map, in accordance 
with the agreement of 1703. This was a final triumph 
for Pliode Island, although another year was to elapse, in 
the slow routine of official business, before the royal de- 
cree confirming the report should issue. 

Still less of any historical importance, was done in the 1726. 
colony during the ensuing year. The Assembly adopted ^ 
an address, congratulating his Majesty on his escape from 
shipwreck in crossing from Holland in January, during 
a violent storm. ^ The rate of millers' toll was fixed at 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xxxi., pp. 346-51. 
2 Br. S. P. 0., America and AVest Indies, vol. 379. 
VOL. II. — 42 



CHAP, two quarts of grain for each bushel ground. In a private 
^3^^ case, j udgment on appeal was awarded for one hundred 
1726. pounds in silver money, or one hundred and eighty-one 
■^^^ pounds ten shillings in hills of credit, which determines 
the rate of depreciation of paper money at that time. The 
frame of the second church, huilt hy the First Baptist 
80. Society, was raised, and the building was completed dur- 
ing the year.^ The present Trinity Church in Kewport 
was also completed this year. The old building having 
become too small for the society, was removed, and the 
new one erected on its site. The pros|)ect of war with 
Spain, caused a new militia act to be passed, authorizing 
the soldiers to elect their own officers, to be confirmed by 
the governor and council, and to hold their connnissions 
for three years."* Neglect of military duty was heavily 
fined, but the rights of conscience were guarded by a pro- 
vision, releasing from the penalty any one known to be 
averse to war upon religious grounds, who should pre- 
sent a certificate to that effect from the meeting with 

' Their first mcetiiig-liouse was on the west side of North Main, nearly- 
opposite Star Street, and was built about 1700, prior to which the church 
met in a grove, or in stormy weather, at private houses. The second house, 
built in 1726, was occupied until 1775, when the present church was com- 
pleted, and opened for divine service on the 28th of May. — See Benedict's 
Hist, of the Baptists, and Staples' Annals of Providence. The superb spire 
of this church stands unrivalled for its beauty of proportion and its architec. 
tural elegance, among all the subsequent creations of ecclesiastical art, and 
until a very recent period, was also the loftiest spire in the United States. 
This church and society were incorporated 4th May, 1774, as The Charitable 
Baptist Society. It was the fifth chartered church in the colony. The 
proiimble to the charter describes it as "being the oldest Christian church 
i:i this colony, and professing to believe that Water Baptism ought to be 
administered by Immersion only, and that professed Believers in Jesus 
Chiist, and no others, are proper subjects of the same." What was the 
opinion of those who lived almost a century nearer to the time of its origin 
than we do, upon the question of priority, recently contested, may be 
gathered from this extract. See chaps, iv., v., vol. i., pp. 107, 8,139, 40, 

^ This law was repealed four years later, as the election of officers by 
the soldiers "was found to be of ill-consequence." 



wliicli lie was connected. Such persons, however, were CIIAP. 
required to aid in the common defence in every way ex- 
cejDt by actual fighting. The English statute of limitation 1726. 
of personal actions enacted in twenty-first James I. was 
adopted. It often happened in cases of appeal to the 
King in council from the decisions of the Assembly, as a 
Court of Errors, that these decisions were reversed ; mean- 
while execution had been granted by the Assembly, and 
no security given by the appellee to make restitution in 
case of such reversal. The subject was acted upon by the juiyS. 
Privy Council,^ and instructions were sent to all the col- 28. 
onies to suspend execution in such cases until the final 
issue, unless adequate security w^as given by the appellee.^ 

Trouble had recently been caused by persons from 
Connecticut running lines within the border towns of 
Rhode Island, to prevent which the Assembly ordered the 
arrest and committal to I^ewport jail of any such intru- 
ders. The occasion for this was soon removed by the ac- 
tion of the home government. The committee of the 
Privy Council adopted the report of the Board of Trade, 1726-7 
and made their final report to the King in conformity J""- 
thereto, whereupon a decree was issued which settled for- 
ever the western line of the colony, in accordance w^ith the Feb. 8. 
agreement atStonington twenty-four years before.^ Tliere 
remained only for the two colonies to run out the lines 
agreeably with the decree. > 

The death of Governor Samuel Cranston, was no or- 1727. 
dinary event in the history of the colony. In the strength '^^^^ 
of his intellect, the courage and firmness of his adminis- 
tration, and the skill with which he conducted public 
afiPairs in every crisis, he resembles the early race of 
Rhode Islanders. Thirty times successively chosen to the 
highest ofiice, he preserved his popularity amidst political 
convulsions that had swept away every other ofiicial in 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Plantations General, vol. xxxix., p. 32. 
^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xxxi., p. 401. 

" Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xi., R. 80. R. I. Col. Rec., iv., 370-3. 



CHAP, the colony. lie was the connectino^ link between two 
centuries of its history, and seemed, as it were, the bridge 

1727. oyer which it passed in safety, from the long struggle for 
existence with the royal goyernors of Massachusetts, to 
the peaceful possession of its chartered rights under the 
House of Ilanoyer. The piratical period, the strife about 
the acts of trade, the desperate efforts of Bellemont and 
his successors, a long and exhausting foreign war, and 
two bitter boundary disputes inyolying the largest portion 
of the colony, one of which he liyed to see fayorably and 
finally settled, were some of the perplexing questions of 
his administration. The romance of history illustrates 
eyery period of his public career, and forms a fitting com- 
plement to that singular romance of priyate life which 
pertained to his early manhood.' 

^ Althougli the limits of this work permit no biographical sketches, the 
Story here rel'erred to is so remarkable that the reader will pardon its in- 
sertion in a note. The facts are taken from a notice of Gov. Cranston in 
Bull's Memoir of R. I. In early life, soon after his marriage with Mar}', a 
grand-daughter of Roger Williams, he went to sea, and was not heard from 
for many years. It proved that he had been captured by pirates, and per- 
haps, like Wm. Harris, had been taken to Algiers. At any rate, he was 
unable to communicate with his family, who had long given him up for 
dead. Here we take up the narrative as related by Mr. Bull. "His wife, 
having an offer of marriage, accepted it, and was on the eve of solenmizing 
the marriage ceremony ; but Cranston, having arrived in Boston, hastened 
homeward, and at Howland's Ferry, just before night, was informed that 
his wife was to be married that evening. With increased speed he flew to 
Newport, but not until the wedding guests had begun to assemble ! She 
was called by a servant into the kitchen — 'a person being there who wished 
to speak with her.' A man in sailor's habit advanced and informed her 
that ' her husband had arrived in Boston, and requested him to inform her 
that he was on his way to Newport.' This information induced her to ques- 
tion the man very closely ; he then told her that what he had said was the 
truth, for he had seen her husband at Howland's Ferry that very afternoon, 
and that he was on his way to Newport; he then, stepping towards her, 
raised his cap, and pointed to a scar on his head, or forehead, and said, 
* do you recollect that scar ? ' f^om which she at once recognized her hus- 
band actually in her presence! He then entertained the wedding guests 
•with a story of his adventures and sufferings, having been taken by pirates, 
and not having had the opportunity or means of communicating the fact to 



A brief and general notice of the religions condition cuav- 
of the colony, will conclude this chapter. The number 
of new churches springing up in the first quarter of the 1727. 
eighteenth century in Rhode Island, and the steady and 
rapid increase, during the same period, of those already 
occupying the ground, — the Baptists, and Quakers, — fur- 
nish ev^idence of a degree of religious interest pervading 
the colony, that is both gratifying in itself, and conclu- 
sive in refutation of sectarian slanders. We should re- 
ceive with caution the statements of writers, zealous in 
their own faith, but sceptical as to all others, wdiose free 
denunciations of " the heretical colony," upon this point, 
w^ould be more safely interpreted to imj^ly that their pecu- 
liar tenets were not so prevalent in Rhode Island, as were 
those of the early settlers of the State. There is no one 
point upon which intelligent and educated men are so 
prone to err, as in supposing that the highest type of 
Christian character is rarely to be found without the 
sphere of their particular church ; and there is no subject 
upon which a more general ignorance exists, among the 
same class of men, than that of the theological views, or 
distinctive dogmas of other churches than their own. The 
history of Rhode Island furnishes, perhaps, the best illus- 
tration of these truths, because here was the only ground 
upon w^iich all sects stood ec[ual before the laws, and 
where the champions of each could display their real 
characters, and show the influence of their respective 
theologies. Cotton Mather, writing at the close of the 
past century, describes Rhode Island as " a colluvies of 
Antinomians, Familists, Anabaptists, Antisabbatarians, 
Arminians, Socinians, Quakers, Ranters, every thing in 
the world but Roman Catholics and true Christians." ' 
Tlumfries, the historian of the society under whose auspi- 

her; having at last escaped out of their hands, on his way home he arrived 
at Boston, and from thence to Rowland's Ferrv, and from thence with in- 
creased anxiety and speed to the arms of his wife." 

' Magnalia, b. vii., chap, iii., sec. 12, written in 1695. 



CHAP, ces the Church of Eno^hmd was introduced, derivino: his 
informatiou from the missionaries in Rhode Island, says : 

1727. Tlie people were negligent of all religion till about the 
year 1722 ; the very best were such as called themselves 
Baptists, or Quakers, but it was feared many were Gorto- 
nians or Deists." ^ The Rev. N. Prince, missionary at 
Westerly, expresses his astonishment at the kind treat- 
ment he received, so unlike that which everywhere else 
was accorded to those who differed from the prevailing 
religious sentiment. He says : " The sectaries here are 
chiefly Baptists, that keep the Saturday as a sabbath, and 
are more numerous than all the other persuasions through- 
out the town put together ; " and then proceeds to express 
his wonder : " that those Baptists who I imagined would 
oppose me, and all of the same interest with me, should be 
so far from it, that they have expressed a gladness of a 
minister's coming to those of a difl*erent persuasion from 
them ; that instead of separating and keeping at a dis- 
tance, they should many of them come with my own 
hearers, and be as constant as most of them, and but few 
that would not occasionally do it, and manifest their 
liking ; that when I supposed that if they did come, it 
would be to pick, and carp, and And fault, and then go 
away and make the worst of it, that they should come 
after a sermon and thank me for it ; that instead of shun- 
ning me and keeping off from an acquaintance with me, 
they should invite me to their houses, and be sorry if I 
would pass by without calling ; that their two ministers 
in the town, who I expected would be virulent and fierce 
against me, and stir up their people to stand to their arms, 
should not only hear me, thank me, visit me, but take my 
part against some few of their own persuasion that showed 
a narrow spirit towards us, and be the most charitable 

* See Staples' Annals, p. 444; also McSparran's " America Dissected," 
in Updike's Narrt. Church, Appendix, to the same effect. 



and catliolic, wlioiu I tlioiiglit to have found the most stiff ciiAr. 
and prejudiced." ' vil^Xl^ 

The fact is, that the operation of tlie AT>luntary princi- 1727. 
pie was unknown beyond the limits of Rhode Island. 
The ministers of the various sects, brought hitlier the 
peculiar spirit of their own churches, and reflected that 
spirit in their reports, while expi-essing surprise at the 
kindness of their reception, or attributing the absence of 
fanaticism to a negligence of all religion. They were, by 
this time, nearly all represented in the Rhode Island " col- 
luvies ; " and we have yet to discover any evidence, other 
than that furnished by the sectarian bias proceeding from 
their ignorance of the distinctive princij^les of the founders 
of the State, that this harmonious union was not more 
conducive to the spiritual welfare of the people, than was 
the predominance of any one of the new-coming sects, 
with its resulting union of church and State, which every- 
where else prevailed. 

The liberal Baptist, denying any mortal power over 
the immortal mind ; the benign Quaker, seeking only to 
be guided by " the inner light ; " the mystical Gortonist, 
merging his humanity in the Divine essence, — these had 
framed and founded the institutions of a State, upon prin- 
ciples broad enough to embrace the wdiole human family 
as the children of One common Father. The jDolislied 
Episcopalian and the zealous I^uritan, each claiming in his 
despatches to be " the true church," speedily followed to 
occupy a field at once so novel and so inviting. Each 
learned something he had never known before, and all 
were improved by the mutual' contact ; so that even 
Mather, a quarter of a century later than the denunciation 
above given, after having hiinself assisted at the ordination 
of a Baptist clergyman in Boston,^ writes in a letter to 

^ This letter was written in 1721-2, and is found in Mass. Hist. Soc. 
Letters and Papers, 1721-1760, p. 7, No. 1, and in MS. Letters and Papers, 
1 Series, vol. ii., pp. 102-7, in R. L Hist. Soc. 

Rev. Elisha Callender, settled over the Boston Baptist Church in 1718. 



CHAP. Lord Barrington, describing, altlioiigh not acknowledging, 
J!^.^^ tlie progress of Rhode Island principles, that Calvinists 
1727. with Lutherans, Presbyterians with Episcopalians, Pedo- 
baptists with Anabaptists, beholding one another to fear 
God and work righteousness, do with delight sit down 
together at the same table of the Lord." ^ 

The triumph of liberal sentiments, achieved through 
the spirit of Williams, the sufferings of Gorton, the trials 
of Clarke, and the persecution of the Quakers, is here con- 
fessed, in a single passage, by the high priest of the Puri- 

The reign of bigotry had ceased. 




IG, 1836. 

The following account of the Palatine light, is taken 
from a publication called the Parthenon. It was written 
by Dr. Aaron C. A\^illey, a resident physician of the 
island, to Dr. Samuel L. Mitchell, of New York : — 

Block Island, December 10, 1811. 

Dear Sir : — In a former letter I promised to give you. an account 
of the singular light which is sometimes seen from this place ; I now 
hasten to fulfil my engagement. I should long since have communi- 
cated the fact to the literary world, but was unwilling to depend 
wholly upon the information of others, when by a little delay, there 
was probability of my receiving occular demonstration. I have not, 

Both the Mathers assisted at the ceremony, and Cotton Mather preached 
the ordination sermon, which was printed under the title " Good Men 
United." Hildreth's U. S., ii., 306. 
^ Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. i., p. 105. 



however, been so fortunate in this respect as I could wish, liaving had CHAP, 
only two opportunities of viewing this phenomenon. My residing XIV. 
nearly six miles from the shoi-e which lies next to the region of its ex- 
hibition, and behind elevated ground, has prevented me from seeing it i. 
so frequently, ])er}iaps, as I might otherwise have done. Tlie people 
who have always lived here, are so familiarized to the sight, that they 
never think of giving notice to those who do not happen to be present, 
or even of mentioning it afterwards, unless they hear some particular 
inquiries made. 

This curious irradiation rises from the ocean near the northern 
part of the island. Its appearance is nothing different from a blaze 
of fire ; whether it actually touches the water, or merely hovers over 
it, is uncertain, for I am informed that no person has been near 
enough to decide accurately. It beams with various magnitudes, and 
appears to bear no more analogy to the ignis fatuus than it does to the 
aurora borealis. Sometimes it is small, resembling the light through 
a distant window ; at others expanding to the highness of a ship with 
all her canvas spread. When large it displays either a pyramidical 
form, or three constant streams. In the latter case the streams are 
somewhat blended together at the bottom, but separate and distinct 
at the top, while the middle one rises rather higher than the other 
two. It may have the same appearance when small, but owing to 
the distance and surrounding vapors, cannot be clearly perceived. 
This light often seems to be in a constant state of mutation ; decreas- 
ing by degrees it becomes invisible, or resembles a lucid point, then 
shining anew sometimes with a sudden flare, at others by a gradual in- 
creasement, to its former size. Often the mutability regards the lustre 
only, becoming less and less bright until it disappears, or nothing but a 
pale outline can be discerned of its full ^ze ; then resuming its former 
splendor in the manner before related. The duration of its greatest 
and least state of illumination is not commonly more than two or 
three minutes; this inconstancy, however, does not appear in every 

After the radiance seems to be wholly extinct, it does not always 
return in the same place, but is not unfrequently seen shining at some 
inconsiderable distance from which it disappeared. In this transfer 
of locality it seems to have no certain line of direction. 

When most expanded, this blaze is generally wavering, like the 
flame of a torch. At one time it appears stationary, at another pro- 
gressive. It is seen at all seasons of the year, and for the most part 
in the calm weather which precedes an easterly or southerly storm. 
It has, however, been noticed during a severe northwestern gale, 
and when no storm immediately followed. Its continuance is some- 
times but transient, and others throughout the night, and it has been 
known to appear several nights in succession. 



CHAP. This blaze actually emits liiniinons rays. A gentleman whose 
XIV. house is situated near the sea, informs me that he has known it to 
"^2^^ illuminate considerably the walls of his room through the windows. 
I. * This happens only w^hen the light is within half a mile of the shore, 
for it is often seen blazing at six or seven miles distance, and strangers 
suppose it to be a vessel on fire. 

Having given a concise, but general description of this unusual 
radiance, in which I have been aided by the concurrent testimony of 
divers veritable characters, I will now off'er you those observations 
atforded me by the opportunities I have had for visiting it myself. 
The first time I beheld it, was at evening twilight, in February, 
1810. It was large, and gently lambent, very bright, broad at the 
bottom, and terminating acutely upward. From each side seemed to 
issue rays of faint light, similar to those perceptible in any blaze 
placed in the open air at night. It continued about fifteen minutes 
from the time I first observed it, then gradually became smaller until 
more dim, and it was entirely extinguished. 

I saw it again on the evening of December 20. It was then small, 
and I supposed it to be a light on board of some vessel, but I was 
soon undeceived. It moved along, apparently parallel to the shore, 
for about two miles, in the time that I was riding one at a moderate 
pace. An ascent of ground then hid it for a few minutes from my 
view^ Passing this, I observed it about half way back to the place 
where it had commenced its vagrant career. I then stopped to ob- 
serve it more attentively. The light then remained still for some 
time, then moved ofi" quickly for several rods, and made a halt ; thus 
being in a state of alternate motion and rest. Its magnitude and 
lustre were subject to the same unsteadiness described above. 

This lucid meteor has long been known by the name of the Pala- 
tine light. By the ignorant and superstitious it is thought to be su- 
pernatural. Its appellation originated from that of a ship called the 
Palatine, which was designedly cast away at this place, in the begin- 
ning of the last century, in order to conceal, as tradition reports, the 
inhuman treatment and murder of some of its unfortunate passengers. 
From this time, it is said, the Palatine light appeared, and there are 
many who believe it to be a ship of fire, to wiiich their fantastic and 
distempered imaginations figure masts, ropes, and flowing sails. 

The cause of this " roving brightness " is a curious subject for 
jjhilosophical investigation. Some, perhaps, Avill suppose it will de- 
pend upon a peculiar modification of electricity ; others upon the in- 
flammation of phlogdgistous (hydrogenous) gas. But tliere are possi- 
bly many other means, unknown to us, by which light may be 
evolved from those materials with wiiich it is latently associated, by 
the powder of chemical affinities. 



I have stated to you facts, but feel a reluctance to hazard any ciIAP 
speculations. These I leave to you and to other acute researchers XIV. 
of created things. Your opinion I would be much pleased with. 

With the highest feeling of respect, 

I remain yours, &c., 

Aaron C. Willet. 

Hon. S. L. Mitchell. 

We regret that the reply of the learned and eccentric 
doctor to this admirable description of a most singular 
phenomenon cannot be found. 






Almost a whole generation had passed away since any 
change was made in the office of governor, and we have 
nearly lost sight of the fact, that the charter was always 
j^laced in his custody, and the duplicate copy of it in that 
of the deputy-governor. Joseph Jenckes was chosen to 
succeed Gov. Cranston, and Jonathan Nichols was elected 
in his place, as deputy -governor. Gov. Jenckes resided 
at Pawtucket. It was deemed " highly necessary for the 
governor of this colony to live at New2:>ort, the metropolis 
of the government," and an appropriation of one hundred 
pounds was therefore made to defray the expenses of his 

The death of George I. occurred very suddenly at 
Osnaburg, while on the w^ay to visit his hereditary do- 
minion of Hanover. His son, the Prince of Wales, suc- 
ceeded to the throne as George H,, but no change in the 
policy of the empire resulted. 

The Assembly sent notice to Connecticut of the settle- 
ment of the boundary line by the King. Another ferry 
was established between Portsmouth and Bristol. The old 
one, which for over forty years had been run from Tripp's 
landing, had lately been removed to a new spot, and was 
now restored ; so that two ferries now connected the north 



end of the island witli tlie opposite shore of Bristoh An CIIAP. 
assault with intent to kill had recently been committed 
by an Indian lad in Portsmouth, upon his master. There 1727. 
was no law adequate to such cases. The culprit was '^^^l^^ 
branded with a hot iron on the forehead with the letter R, 
and whipped at the cart's tail at all the corners in New- 
port, ten lashes at each place, and his master was required 
to sell him out of the colony, for his unexpired time, and 
so much longer as was necessary to pay the charges, never 
to return here again. 

By the death of deputy-governor Xichols, who had Aug. 
held the office but three months, the election of his succes- ^' 
sor devolved upon the General Assembly in grand com- 22. 
mittee. They chose Thomas Fry, the Speaker of the 
House, to fill that place. One Hardman, having publish- 
ed a pamphlet wherein sundry " vile and mutinous ex- 
j)ressions " were contained, was ordered to make acknowl- 
edgment of his fault, in writing, and the books were pub- 
licly burnt, in front of the colony house, by the town ser- 
geant. News of the death of George I. having been re- 
ceived, the acts of the last session, and legal processes, 
since issued in his name, were declared to be of equal 
force, as if bearing the name of the present King. Aji 
address to his Majesty was voted, wherein it is stated that 
" a regular and beautiful fortification of stone, with a 
battery " capable of mounting fifty cannon, had been built 
at Newport. This address was afterwards presented by 
Partridge, enclosing a petition for forty cannon, thirty of 
eighteen-pound calibre, and ten of twelve-pounds, to arm 
the fort ; the ammunition to be furnished at the expense 
of the colony.' An appropriation was made for the for- 
mal proclamation of George IL, which took place at New- 24. 
port w^ith military honors, and at Providence the .next 
day. Orders for the proclamation were not received from 25. 
England, till later in the season, so that the Assembly, 

^ Br. S. P. 0., America and West Indies, vol. 379. The address is in 
R. I. Col. Rec, iv., 393. 



CHAP, sitting at Warwick, again proclaimed the King at that 
place ; and also that all crown officers shonld be continued 

1727. for six months from the death of his late Majesty. All 
commissions, civil and military, were renewed in the 
name of George II. Upon request of Charles Augustus 
Xinigret, son of the late sachem, certain lands of his in 
Westerly, were granted as a site for a house of worship, 
to be laid out by his trustees.' The law for registering 
births, marriages, and deaths, had become so neglected, 
that increased penalties were affixed to its violation, and 
power was given to the town clerks to sue for the same. 
29. The great earthquake in New England occurred at this 

time, causing much alarm throughout the cotmtry, but 
producing no serious accident. For several months after- 
ward more gentle shocks were occasionally felt. 

The progress of the Press in America was slow. Five 
years before this, James Franklin had commenced the 
New England Courant at Boston, in connection with his 
younger brother Benjamin. The paper suffered from the 
censorship, and finally expired for w^ant of support. James 
came to Newport, and set up a printing establishment. A 
pamphlet printed by him this year is still in existence, 

^^93 and the press with which he worked yet remains. 

Feb. The Assembly, at its winter session, offered a premium 
of sixpence a pound on hemp, raised and well cured in the 
colony. Governor Burnet of New York, was transferred 
by George II. to Massachusetts, in place of Col. Shute. 
As he was to pass through Khode Island, on the way to 
his new government, the Assembly voted him a public 

The policy of public loans, which was truly enough 
described as " the art of enriching themselves by running 
in dej3t," ^ had become established in New England. As 
each " bank " expired by limitation, it was renewed by 

^ At Feb. session, 1734-5, twenty acres of this land were laid out and 
deeded for the use of the Church of England in Westerly. 
■•^ " America Dissected," in Updike's Narrt. Church, 616. 



statute, and further issues on new banks were created, CITAP. 
until, as we shall see hereafter, the rapid depreciation of Ji^^ 
the bills of credit was so accelerated, that utter bankruptcy 1728. 
ensued. The first bank, originally limited to five years, ^'"^y^* 
had been continued to ten, and payment was now further 
postponed for three years, after which the redemption of 
the bills was to be eff'ected in ten annual instalments 
Avithout interest. The same course was adopted in June 
with the second bank, and at this session a new loan, the 
third, of forty thousand pounds, was issued for thirteen 
years, for the same specious but delusive reasons — the 
decay of trade and scarcity of bullion. 

Repeated eflTorts were made by Rhode Island to run 
the western boundary jointly with Connecticut, but that 
colony, for various assigned causes, failed to unite in the 
survey. A new commission was now appointed for the 
purpose, with orders to proceed at once, ex 'parte ^ unless 
Connecticut w^ould join, and notice of this action was sent 
to Hartford. That Assembly accordingly appointed com- 
missioners to meet with those of Rhode Island. A mis- 
understanding betw^een the parties prevented their con- 
currence. The Connecticut men refused to proceed unless 21. 
the twenty -mile line, w^est from Warwick Neck, was again 
run. The Rhode Island men therefore surveyed the 
western line ex parte^ and both commissions reported to 
their respective legislatures. This difi'erence was fortunate 
for^Rhode Island, as in the final survey it was found that 
the twenty -mile line, as formerly run by Rhode Island, 
fell considerably short of its proper terminus. Tlie Rhode 
Island committee' was continued, and negotiations for June 
another survey were opened with Connecticut. To pre- 
serve deer in the colony, it was forbidden to kill them 
from January to July. A general law against pedlars, 
more comprehensive than the last, which related only to 

^ William Wanton, Francis "Willett, John Waterman, William Jenckes, 
and Benjamin Ellery, with John Mumford and William Green as survevor.'a. 



CHAP, dry-goods, was passed, forbidding eveiy sort of merelian- 
dise to be sold by them on penalty of forfeiture. 

A sliip of Avar from England brought Burnet, the new 
Governor of Massachusetts, to Newport. Salutes were 
exchanged at the foi-t, a public reception was given him, 
and the next day he proceeded to Boston. 
Sept. The joint commission having agreed upon prelimina- 
ries, met at AV'arwick, and completed the survey of the 
twenty-mile line, and then of the whole western line, 
setting up bounds at short intervals along its entire length. 
The business occu2)ied nine days, when the iinal agreement 
27. was signed at Westerly, which settled forever this vexed 

(juestion after a controversy of sixty -five years. 
Oct. AYhen the report Avas presented to the Assembly, the 
account of the commissioners, amounting to one hundred 
and sixteen pounds, Avas alloAved, and copies of the Con- 
necticut commissions Avere ordered to be entered upon the 
records. PaAvtucket Bridge required rebuilding, and one 
half the expense Avas A'oted by this colony, provided Mas- 
sachusetts Avould pay the remainder. The death of John 
Menzies, Judge of Admiralty, left a vacancy in that court. 
The Assembly commissioned William Whiting to fill the 
place till his Majesty should appoint another. 
1728-9 At the Avinter session, the Assembly prohibited the 
'^^g' manumission of any slaA^es, without sufficient bonds first 
given to the toAvn for their maintenance by the owner, in 
case of their becoming disabled. Tlie whole criminal 
code AA\as revised at this session, in a single act enumerat- 
ing the various crimes Avith their statute penalties,' and a 
ncAv license laAA^, forbidding the sale of liquors in less 
quantities than one gallon Avithout special license, and 
giving toAvn councils the power of granting such, Avas 

1729. At the spring election., John Wanton was chosen 
■^^•^ deputy-governor in the place of Thomas Fry. The oath 

1 Public Laws, edit. 1730, pp. 169-1*76. 



to support the acts of trade and navigation, was taken hj CHAP, 
the governor in the presence of the Assenddy, and also of 
the collector and the Judge of Adniiralt}^, Nathaniel By- 172<J. 
field, who had been appointed by the King. This is the 
first time in which the presence of any of the crown 
officers at this ceremony is mentioned, and they also were 
duly sworn. Edward Greenman, who, ten years before, 
upon conviction of counterfeiting bills of credit, had been 
fined six hundred pounds and compelled to deposit fifteen 
hundred pounds in the treasury, to redeem the counter- 
feits, was allowed, upon petition, to withdraw what por- 
tion of the deposit remained, as all the forged l)ills had 
been exchanged for the genuine. The revenue derived 
from the duty of three pounds a head upon all imported 
slaves was appropriated, one half to paving the streets of June 
Newport, and the other half to repairing bridges on the 
main. Disturbances having occurred at town meetings, 
from the refusal of moderators to put (questions to vote 
when desired to do so, it was ordered that every question 
should be put to vote upon request of seven freemen, but 
no law or money question should be decided at town- 
meetings, unless it was mentioned in the clerk's warrant 
calling the meeting. Indian dances were another source 
of annoyance. The town councils were empowered to 
regulate them, and to fine persons who should sell or give 
any strong liquors at such dances. Military stores, to 
equip a colony vessel against pirates and privateers, being 
needed, a hundred pistols and cutlasses, forty boarding 
pikes, a hundred and fifty muskets., and twelve mounted 
guns, were ordered to be bought. 

The increase of population required a re-(n'ganization 
of the colony into three counties. The islands formed 
Newport county, including the towns of Portsmouth, 
Newport, Jamestown, and New Shoreham, with Newport 
as the shire town. The mainland was divided into twa 
counties ; King's province was called King's countv, and 
embraced Westerly and North and South Kingstown. 
VOL. II. — 43 



CHAP, witli tlie latter as the shire town. All ^^"orth of this, con- 
taining the towns of East Greenwich, Warwick, and Prov- 

1720. idence, with the latter as the shire town, was called Prov- 
idence county. The judicial system w^as revised to meet 
this change. The justices of the peace in each county, or 
any five of them, were made a coui-t of criminal jurisdic- 
tion, except in capital cases. This was called the " Court 
of General Sessions of the Peace." The Inferior Court of 
Common Pleas, for tlie trial of civil causes, w^as composed 
of four judges for each county, any three of whom, with a 
clerk, might hold the court. The judges and clerk for 
every county were appointed by the General Assembly. 
The jurors for both these courts were elected at the town 
meetiug preceding the sittings of court. Both courts 
Vv'ei-e to sit twice a year in each county, and an appeal 
from either of them might be taken to the Superior Court. 
This was composed of the upper house of Assembly, any 
five of whom were to sit at Newport in March and Sep- 
tember for the trial of all causes, civil or criminal. Each 
county was to have its court-house and jail. 

Oct. At the meeting of the Assembly in Warwick, the gen- 
cral treasurer was required to give bonds to the amount 
of twenty thousand pounds, and his annual salary was 
fixed at one hmidred pounds, wdiich was doubled two 
} ears later. Practising lawyers w^ere forbidden to be de- 
puties. The act was repealed at the next session, but has 
since been at various times introduced. This distrust of 
the legal profession has so often been shown in the world's 
history, that it cannot be without some foundation.' The 

^ The memorable capitulation between Charles V. and Pizarro, which 
defined the powers of the conqueror and first Captain-General of Peru, and 
arranged the basis of his government, "strictly prohibited lawyers and at- 
torneys, whose presence was considered as boding ill to the harmony of the 
new settlements, from setting foot in them." This capitulation was signed 
July 26, 1529. Prescott's Peru, i., 307. The same dread of the legal pro- 
fession inspired the people of R. I., two centuries later, and was occa^^ion- 
ally manifested, as we shall see, at subsequent periods. In 1848, while the 
writer was in South America, a similar controversy was going on in the 



reason assigned for it in this case, was that tlieir presence CHAP, 
in the Assembly, wlien sitting as a Court of Appeals, Ji)^ 
was " found to be of ill consequence.*' 1729. 

A petition from Attleboro' for annexation to Hhode 
Island again brouglit up tlie boundary dispute. A com- 
mittee was appointed to run the line north from Paw- 
tucket falls to Massachusetts south line, and notice thereof 
was sent to that province. The council of Massacliusetts 
appointed commissioners for this purpose, but for soine l^ec. 
reason the House refused to concur.' 

The arrival of Georo:e Berk el v, Dean of Derry, and ^729--3o. 
afterward bishop of Cloyne, was a joyful event in the 23. 
history of Kewport, and important in its results to the 
other colonies. A corps of literary men and artists ac- 
companied him, among whom was Smibert, to whose ad- 
vent is due the earliest impulse given to American art. 
From the collection of pictures that he brought, Copley 
iirst drew his inspiration, and AYest was taught to breathe 
his spirit upon the undying canvass. The benevolent de- 
sign of Berkely to found a college in the Bermudas, was 
abandoned from necessity, but his liberal benefactions to 
Harvard and Yale still exist, as proofs of his zeal in the 
cause of classical learning. To combat the progress of 
materialism, and subvert the Epicurian tlieories of Ilobbes, 
Berkely had become the champion of the immaterial sys- 
tem of philosophy, and argued the non-existence of matter, 
or rather its entire subjection to the ideal. The purity of 
his character was the delight of his friends, and the ad- 
miration of his opponeiits. In a single line Pope has ac- 

" To Berkely, every virtue under Heaven." 

British colony of Honduras. A great opposition to la\yyers' taking part in 
legislative proceedings was manifested, a strong party in that colony de- 
siring to exclude them entirely. A few years since, the only members in 
the United States Senate who were not lawyers were the two Senators from 
Rhode Island. The opinion of the highest authority, eighteen cwituries 
ago, upon this subject, may be found in Luke xi., 46, 52 ! 
^ Mass. Court Files, iii., 53, in R. I. Hist. Soc. 



CHAP. Tlie arrival of sncli a man could not fail to be attended 
^3^^ with good results. He purchased a farm in Middletown, 
1729-80. about three miles from Newport, and called it after the 
residence of the early archbishops of England, Whitehall, 
a name which it still retains, and was soon admitted a 
freeman of the colony. Here he resided for more than 
two years, and wrote his Alciphron or Minute Philoso- 
pher, an ingenious defence of tlie Christian religion. Soon 
after his arrival, he formed a society for the purpose of 
discussing philosophical questions and of collecting books. 
This was the origin of the Redwood library, organized some 
years later. One of the members of this society was Edward 
Scott, the grand uncle of Sir Walter Scott, wlio, for nearly 
twenty years, had been master of the grammar school at 
Newport, the first classical school established in Rhode 
Island. Berkely's Theory of Vision is the first satisfac- 
tory account we have of the phenomena of sight ; his Alci- 
phron was printed in Newport by James Franklin ; but the 
most enduring monument of his genius is the ode " On the 
Prospect of the Arts and Sciences in Amenca," of which 
the concluding stanza " will live immortal as the verse of 
Gray." ' 

There was a small strip of land on the south-west cor- 
ner of Warwick, of which the ownership was claimed by 
the proprietors of the " great purchase " of vacant lands. 
Feb. The Assembly voted to refer the question to disinterested 
persons in Massachusetts, and directed the attorney -general 
in case it was not speedily decided, to bring writs of eject- 
ment against the occupants. The dispute was afterwards 
settled by the courts. More than a year had passed since 
the Assembly had voted to rebuild Pawtucket bridge 
jointly with Massachusetts, but that colony had taken no 
action in the matter. A letter w^as now sent to Massachu- 

^ Westward the course of empire takes its way ; 
The four first acts ah eady past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day, 
Time's uoblest offspring is the last." 


sett? to remind tliem of tliis vote, and to advise, in case of cir. 
tlieir refusal to rebuild, that the bridge be " demolished, 
that it may not remain as a trap to endanger men's lives." 173C 

SlieritFs for the three counties were chosen for the first 
time at the general election.' This Assembly passed an 
act for the relief of poor sailors, which is perhaps the 
origin of the present hospital money system in the United 
States. Sixpence a month w\as to be deducted, by the 
naval officer, from the wages of every Khode Island sea- 
man, and paid to the town where he belonged, to create a 
fund for the support of disabled mariners and their families. 

The committee to run the line from Pawtucket falls, 
reported that they had performed their duty, as instructed, 
without the concurrence of Massachusetts. The Attle- 
boro' petitioners falling within the line, the Assembly as- 
serted the claim of Rhode Island to all that territory now 
comprised in the town of Cumberland. Massachusetts 
w^as willing to adopt the suggestion of Rhode Island with 
regard to Pawtucket bridge, and appointed men to join 30 
w^ith some from this colony in its destruction. 

The repeal of the late militia act, exposed the Quakers 
to do military service. As this was considered a violation Jue 
of the rights of conscience, the Assembly re-enacted the 
clauses of that law which were for their benefit. To pro- 
tect the rights of the Indians, it was required that the 
assent of two justices should be obtained, to any bond of 
apprenticeship to wdiich they were parties. By direction 
of the Board of Trade, a census was ordered. The result 
showed the population of the colony to be about eigliteen 
thousand, an increase of six thousand within ten years, of 
whom were fifteen thousand three hundred whites, sixteen 
hundred and fifty blacks, and nine hundred and eighty- 
five Indians, nearly equally divided among the three 
counties, and the militia force numbered nearly nineteen 
hundred men. 

^ Jahleel Brenton, Esq., for Newport, Capt. Daniel Abbot for Providence, 
and Immannel Northnp, Esq., for Kings County. 



CHAP. In Massaclmsetts the lower Louse concurred with the 
council in reference to Pawtucket bridge. The connnit- 
1730. tees of both colonies met accordingly, and the bridge was 
''^gj' demolished.' The cost of its destruction, as appears by 
Sept. the report submitted to the Massachusetts legislature, was 
about four pounds. The iron was divided between the 
two colonies, and sold.^ Tliis removal of the only conve- 
nient means of connection at the point of disputed jurisdic- 
tion, tended to increase the difficulties arising from that 
source. The tax collector of Attleboro' witli his aid, were 
arrested by a Rhode Island officer, and convicted at a jus- 
22. tice's court in Providence. Complaint was made to Gov. 
25. Jenckes, who, by order of the Assembly, sent a proposi- 
Dec. tion tliat'conmiissioners be appointed by both colonies, to 
settle the line. This was acceded to by the council, who 
19. appointed a committee on their })art, and concurred in by 
1730-1 the house, who added four members. The Assembly ap- 
Fei). * pointed a like committee of seven to meet them. Both 
17. parties, by the terms of their commissions, were empowered 
to settle the whole eastern line, and pending the adjust- 
ment, the inhabitants of the disputed territory were re- 
leased from all taxes by both governments. 

The town of Providence was divided into four towns. 
The outlands, as they were termed, had become })opulous. 
The old seven-mile line was made the western limit of 
Providence, and a point half a mile north of Pawtucket 
falls was fixed upon as its northern boundary. All north 
of that limit and east of the seven-mile line was called 
Smitliiield. Of all west of the seven-mile line and north 
of Warwick, two tow^ns were made. The division between 
them was a line from the northwest corner of Providence, 
westward to Connecticut, south of which was called 
Scituate, and all north of it Gloucester. Each of the new 
towms was to send two deputies to the next General As- 

^ William Jenckes was the committee on the part of R. I. 
Mass. Court Files, ii., 119-121. 



At the election, the same general officers were con- CIIAP. 
tinned. A memorial against fnrther issues of bills of 
credit was 2)resented, which became the basis of important 1731. 
proceedings. Many laws to encourage and regulate trade ^' 
were enacted this year. Surveyors of lumber, in all its 
forms, and viewers of packed meats and fish were ap- 
pointed. The gauge of casks was established. The man- June 
ufacture of duck received further aid. Insolvents were 
allowed to compound with their creditors, and obtain a 
discharge upon consent of two-thirds, in number and 
value, of the latter. The premium upon hemp was raised 
to ninepence a pound, and on flax to fourpence. To en- 
courage the whale' and cod fisheries, a bounty of five 
shillings for every barrel of whale oil, one penny a pound 
for bone, and five shillings a quintal for codfish, caught 
by Rhode Island vessels, and brought into this colony, 
was offered, to be paid from the interest accruing upon a 
new bank, or issue of bills of credit to the amount of sixty 
thousand pounds, which was made at this session. 

Prohibitions were set up in Attleboro', forbidding any 
one toJevy taxes or exercise jurisdiction there, mitil the 
boundary was settled. Commissioners were appointed 
to meet any who might be named by Massachusetts 
u]) on this question, and in case of their non-agreement, 
preparations were made to carry the matter to England ; 
provided the inhabitants of the tract in dispute would ad- 
vance two hundred pounds towards the expenses, and 
other parties would guarantee four thousand pounds to 
the colony for this purpose, but this proviso was repealed 
in October. The Massachusetts council had alreadv March 


^ It is said that the first person w ho killed a whale upon this coast was a 
Scotchman, named William Hamilton, who " in early lite settled on Cape 
Cod, whence he removed to Rhode Island, he being persecuted for killing 
the whale, by the inhabitants of the Cape, as one who dealt with evil 
spirits." Hamilton died in Connecticut in 1*746, aged 103 years. This must 
have occurred some time prior to 1690, when the art of taking whales with 
boats from the shore was introduced at Nantucket by Ichabod Paddock 
from Cape Cod. 



CHAP, ordered tliat a inajoritj of tlieir commissioners sliould bind 
the whole, and then instructed them to consider what 
1731. sliould be done in respect to the residents of Attleboro', 
'^Jl'g® The committee reported that the act releasing them from 
taxes ought to be repealed, and that the right of the pro- 
vince to all the lands east of Pawtucket River should be 

Gov. Jenckes was opposed to the paper-money system, 
and the day after the Assembly rose, he entered his dis- 

25. sent upon the records, under the act creating the new 
loan. This caused great dissatisfaction. Party spirit ran 
high. The opponents of paper currency applied to the 
secretary for copies of the act, to which the governor ap- 
pended the requisite certificate of that officer's ofticial 
character, and afiixed the colony seal thereto, as usual in 
such cases. This was seized upon by the opposition to 
misrepresent Jenckes, as having endangered the existence 
of the charter by afiixing the seal to a complaint against 
Aug. the government. Deputy-governor Wanton convened the 

^' Assembly, the governor refusing to do so. They declared 
the entry to be null, and censured the governor. Ilis dis- 
sent not having been expressed during the session, the 
act had already taken efifect. The subsequent entry was 
deemed to be irregular in its nature, and since other votes 
preceded the bank act, it was also uncertain in its applica- 
tion, and finally " the post-entry of said dissent deprived 
the General Assembly of the benefit of considering the 
consequence thereof." These were the reasons embodied in 
the resolution, but there were otliers not less important or 
exciting. The question of tlie veto power of the executive, 
was also involved in the controversy. The Assembly took 
away the attested papers intended for England, and dis- 
missed the memorial presented by the opponents of the 

20. measure. Jenckes wrote directly to the King, stating the 
facts, and asking his Majesty's decision upon the veto 

^ Mass. Court Files, iii., 59-63. 


qTiestioii, and also Avlietlier tlie governor could refuse to chap- 
affix the seal of attestation to the secretary's copies of acts ' 
to be sent home, or should be required to read all sucli 1781. 
acts before sealing them ; the secretar}' being a sworn 
officer. The specie party also petitioned the King against '^q^' 
the further issue of bills, and the conduct of the dominant 
faction in the Assembly, enclosing copies of their rejected 
memorial, and of the bank acts for the past twenty-one 
years. At the same time they addressed the Board of 
Trade, complaining of the conduct of the Assembly in 
seizing the attested papers. Collector Kay also wrote to Sept. 
the Board of Trade on the subject, and all the paj^ers ^' 
were sent to Thomas Sandford, a London merchant doing 
business for the colony. These four' documents were for- 
midable checks upon the headlong policy of the Assem- 
bly ; but the mischief was already done. Besides the 
regular loans, four of which had now been issued, there 
bad been at various times, smaller anjounts put out for 
the temporary supply of the treasury, or to meet present 
emergencies ; so that, exclusive of the new bank of sixty 
thousand pounds, there had been emitted, up to this time, 
one hundred and ninety-five thousand three hundred 
pounds in bills of public credit of this colony, of wliicli 
over one hundred and twenty thousand pounds were still 
outstanding ! The value of silver, formerly eight shillings 
an ounce, had risen to twenty shillings, showing the rapid 
depreciation of this baseless paper. 

Massachusetts demanded satisfaction for violence done ^2 
to her people by the Khode Island officers, and took 
measures to represent the matter to their agent in Eng- 
land. Seizure, and imprisonment of officers had occurred 
on both sides. Two Massachusetts men were released by 
the Assembly, and that province was desired to recipro- 
cate. It was resolved to propose a reference of the dis- 
pute to gentlemen in other colonies, and three were named 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii., s. 9, 10, 29. R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 


to act in behalf of Rhode Island.' If this overture should 
bo declined, then a committee was to draw up a statement 
of the case, to present to the next General Assembly for 
transmission to England. 

One hundred pounds w^as voted to AVilliam Jenckes 
towards the Rhode Island half of the expense of rebuild- 
ing Pawtucket bridge, which was completed the next 
year, when the balance Avas paid. A new edition of the 
laws was called for, and partly printed this year at New- 
port by James Franklin.'' 

The trade of the colony was increasing. Ten years 
before, the shipping, consisting of some sixty small ves- 
sels, amounted to tliirty-iive hundred tons. It now 
counted iive thousand tons, and embraced tw^o ships, be- 
sides a few brigs, with many sloops, and was manned by 
four hundred sailors. Most of the supplies were received 
from Boston, but two vessels annually arrived from Eng- 
land, as many from Holland and the Mediterranean, and 
ten or twelve from the AVest Indies. The articles of ex- 
port comprised horses, live-stock, logwood, lumber^ fish, 
and the produce of the field and the dairy, and amounted 
to ten thousand pounds sterling annually. In reply to 
inquiries of the Board of Trade as to the condition of the 
colony, these facts were stated, and the ordinary expenses 
of government were estimated at two thousand pounds a 
year, and the extraordinary at twenty-five liundred 
pounds, colonial currency. Partridge, the colonial agent, 
of course represented the dominant party in the paper- 
money controversy, and hence the memorials of the mi- 
nority had been sent to another person. He petitioned 
for copies of these papers in order to prepare a reply.' 
The request was granted. 

' Col. Willett of West Chester, Col. Isaac Hick?, and Mr. James Jackson 
of Flushing, all of New York, 

Both title-jmges of this edition are dated 1730, but the volume, con- 
taining 243 pages besides the Charter and Index, includes the entire pro- 
ceedings of 1731. 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii., s. 14, 16. 




The proposal of Rhode Island to refer the boundary CIIAP. 
qnestion, was communicated to Massachnsetts by Gov. ' 
Jenckes, and met a favorable reception. The provincial 1731. 
Assembly ordered a bill to be prepared for that purpose, 
and four weeks later appointed three commissioners to 1731-2 
meet with tliose of Ehode Island.' "^i^"- 

Partridge was absent from London when Sandford 
received the memorials against bills of credit. On his re- 
turn, he wrote to Sandford, urging him not to deliver Feb. 2. 
them till he could again hear from Rhode Island. Mean- 
wliile Gov. Jenckes had written to Sandford, to withhold 
his petition to the King on account of the clause contained 
in it, relating to the veto power ; so a letter from the As- 
sembly to Partridge stated, but Sandford denied having 
received any such communication from Jenckes. At any 
rate they were both too late. All the papers had already 
been delivered, and orders of reference had upon them. 
Partridge also wrote to deputy-governor Wanton, depre- ^• 
eating this dispute as being disastrous to the interests of 
Rhode Island, and exerted his influence, although vainly, as 
the sequel proves, to prevent the prosecution." A reply to 
this letter, and an answer to the memorials were prepared ^^^^ 
by the Assembly, to be used in defence of the colony. ^ 

Gov. Jenckes had given notice when last elected, that 
he should not again be a candidate. William Wanton 
was chosen governor, and his brother John was re-elected 
deputy-governor. This continued for two years, and is 
the only case in which two brothers held the two execu- 
tive offices at the same time. The proxies from Kew 
Shoreham were thrown out, not being returned by a per- 
son duly appointed at the town meeting. Tlie import 
duty on negro slaves was repealed by order of the King. 

^ Mass. Court Files, iii, 64, 5. Roger "Walcot of Windsor, Osias Pitkin 
of Hartford, and Joseph Fowler of Lebanon, all of Connecticut, were the 
commissioners selected by the Mass. Committee, and approved by the R. I. 
Ass'y. in May following. 

^ These two letters from Partridge are in Foster Papers, bound vol. ii. 
pp. 146-150. 


CHAP. More care in the wordino^ of statutes liad become 
^J_^ necessary. The old custom was for tlie Assembly to pass 
1732. an act in substance, leaving it for tlie clerk or recorder to 
put it in proper form. The inconvenience of such a loose 
mode of proceeding, had more than once been felt, and 
there is reason to believe that the intention of the Assem- 
bly had sometimes been misrepresented, through careless- 
ness or design, from this cause. In one matter, at least, 
which has become of historical importance, although of 
no practical moment at the time, the State has suffered to 
the present day from this inadvertence. We refer to the 
interpolated phrases in the law regulating the admission 
of freemen.^ The recently adopted plan of ])rintiug the 
laws, and the frequent requisitions from England for 
copies of them, compelled greater care in their composi- 
June tion. An engrossing committee was therefore appointed 
12. at this session. Franklin petitioned to be employed as 
public printer, which was allowed for one year, at a salary 
of twenty pounds. Tavern-keepers were barred the right 
of action in cases where they trusted any one for liquor 
beyond the amount of twenty shillings. 

The petition of Gov. Jenckes, having passed the usual 
routine through the Privy Council to the Board of Trade, 
was referred by them to the law officers of the crown, whose 
Aug. opinion was rendered clearly and decisively that, by the 
5. charter of Rhode Island, the governor had no veto power ; 
that it was his duty to seal attested copies of public acts, 
but not necessary that he should examine them before 
sealing ; and more than all, that the King himself had no 
jiower reserved in the charter, either to sanction or to 
veto any act of the Assembly that was not inconsistent 
with the laws of England ; but if any act conflicted with 
these, then it w^as in itself void by the terms of the 

Sept. The first newspaper published in Ehode Island, and 

^ See chaps, ix. xi. Vol. i. pp. 311, 4*79, n. 
' Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii. s. 29 


the fourtli in New England, was commenced by James CHAP. 
Franklin. It was called the Rhode Island Gazette, and 
appeared on Thursday of each week.' It was a single 1732. 
sheet only eight inches by twelve. But a very few num- 
bers of it are now in existence. It lasted only six months, 
and was then discontinued for want of patronage. 

For purposes of defence, a duty of sixpence a ton was Oct. 
levied on all vessels entering the colony, except fisher- 
men. The governor received a fee of five shillings from 
the treasury for eveiy commission to colonial officers 
signed by him. Two constables of Attleboro' having ex- 
ercised jurisdiction within the "gore " claimed by Uliode 
Island, were committed for examination by the justices of 
Providence county. The Massachusetts Assembly pro- 
posed to re-survey the northern line of Rhode Island, in 
order to renew the stakes and bounds setup thirteen years jy^^ g 

The lottery system, soon destined to make an impor- 1732-3 
tant figure in the history of the State, and to receive the J^i". 
sanction of the legislature, was first introduced by private 
persons, and suppressed by statute. The reason assigned 
for the act was, that by these unlawful games, called 
lotteries, many people have been led into a foolish expense 
of money." They were forbidden to be drawn under a 
penalty of five hundred pounds, with a fine of ten pounds 
for any one w^ho should take a ticket. 

It was a work of time to arrange the preliminaries for 
a reference of the boundary question to gentlemen re- May 2. 
siding at a great distance. Both hefe and in Massachu- 
setts the subject came up at almost every session of the 
legislature. A messenger was sent to the l^ew York 
commissioners, to inquire if they would meet those named 
by Massachusetts at the appointed time in Xew London. 
Committees were selected by both colonies to present 

^ Mr. Thomas, in his History of Printing, says the first number appeared 
Sept. 27, 1732, which was on Wednesday. 
^ Mass. Court Files, iii. 67. 



CHAP, their case at tlie meeting. Judge Byfielcl of the Admi- 
^^ItJ Court having died, the Assembly appointed his 

1733. deputy, George Dunbar, of Newport to fill the place till 
the King's will could be known. The whale fishery had 
long been conducted on a small scale within the colony. 
Whales frequented the quiet waters of the Narraganset, 
and were often taken with boats. A stimulus had been 
given to this enterprise by tlie recent premium placed 
upon it, so that vessels began to be fitted out for the pur- 
pose. The first regularly equipped whaleman from Khode 
Island, of which we have any knowledge, arrived in New- 
port at this time with one hundred and fourteen barrels of 
oil, and two hundred pounds of bone, upon which the 
bounty was paid. It was the sloop Pelican, of Newport, 
owned by Benjamin Tliurston. About fifteen years be- 
fore, small sloops had begun to be nsed at Nantucket for 
taking whales, and at this time some twenty-five sail, all 
under fifty tons burden, were there employed, obtaining 
about thirty-seven hundred barrels of oil annually. This 
was the commencement of that career of " victorious in- 
dustry," which was long afterward illustrated in the 
British House of Commons by the splendid rhetoric of 
Burke. ^ 

^ " Look at the manner in which the people of New England have of 
late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tum- 
bling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen 
recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis' Straits, whilst we are looking for them 
beneath the Arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite 
region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the 
frozen serpent of the south. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and 
romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and 
resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equi- 
noctial heat more discouraging to them, than the accumulated winter of both 
the poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the 
harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their 
gigantic game along the coast of Briizil. No sea but what is vexed by their 
fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perse- 
verance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm 
sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy 
industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people ; a 



One hundred pounds were voted to assist the towns in CHAP, 
rebuilding Pawtucket bridge. The statute revising the 
judiciary system, prescribed that the judges and clerks of 1733. 
Common Pleas should hold their places during good be- 
havior. This tenure was now abolished, and the system 
of annual election by the Assembly was adopted. The 
deputies had always been chosen semi-annually. It was 
ordered that in future they be elected to serve the whole 
year, but this alteration was so repulsive to public senti- 
ment, that the act was repealed before the year expired. 

The schedules of the General Assembly, printed by July 
Franklin, were first distributed to the towns during this ^* 
summer, and the October sessions were appointed to be 
held at Providence and South Kingstown alternately. 

General Oglethorpe, having just established his colony 
in Georgia, and founded the city of Savannah, was invited 
by Massachusetts to visit that province on his return to 
England. The Rhode Island Assembly voted him a pub- 
lic reception, but the pressure of business compelled him 
to decline these merited courtesies. 

A fifth bank, amounting to one hundred thousand 
pounds, was created, on similar terms with the former 
issues, besides an emission of four thousand j^ounds to be 
used for arming Fort George. The interest for the firbt 
year, on this new loan at five per cent, was appropriated 
for a pier or harbor at Block Island to benefit the fisher- 
ies. Of the remaining interest, one half was to go to the 
treasury, and the other to be divided rateably among the 
towns. Collector Kay sent a copy of this act to the Board 
of Trade, with a letter complaining also of the tonnage ggp^^ 
duty laid by the Assembly for purposes of defence, as 4. 
violations of the acts of trade. ^ 

The joint committee from Xew York and Connecticut 

people who are still, as it were, in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the 
bone of manhood." Speech on moving resolutions for conciliation with the 
Colonies, March 22, 17*75. 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii. s. 55. 



CHAP, met in Kew London this summer to decide the controversy 
^^3^ between Massachusetts and Ehode Ishmd. They were 
1733. unable to agree upon a settlement of the boundaries, or 
the choice of an umpire, -which was allowed them in case 
of a tie. The Assembly at Kingstown, convened for t\\Q 
first time in the new colony house in that town, voted 
three silver tankards of the value of fifty pounds each, 
with the arms of Rhode Island handsomely engraved on 
them, to be sent to the gentlemen who had acted in be- 
half of the colony, " with the acknowledgment of this 
General Assembly, for their assistance in endeavoring to 
reconcile and put an end to the dispute between the two 
governments." ' 

Massachusetts, prevented by royal instructions from 
issuing any more bills of credit, was alarmed at the great 
loan in Rhode Island, and endeavored to prevent its circu- 
Xov. lation in that province. The legislature published a pro- 
^' claniation, warning the people against receiving Rhode 
Island bills, and the council proposed a law to prohibit 
7. their circulation.' The House non-concurred, but advised 
the merchants to combine in a refusal to take them in 
payment for goods. This was done for a while, but soon 
gave way. A private bank of one hundred and ten thou- 
sand pounds was created, to provide a substitute, redeem- 
able in ten years in silver at nineteen shillings an ounce. 
But the flood of paper from other colonies, and the ad- 
vantage of the Rhode Island trade to the mercliants of 
Boston, were irresistible. The combination gave way. 
Silver rose to twenty-seven shillings an ounce, and foreign 
exchange in proportion. The j^i'ivate bank bills at nine- 
teen shillings were withdrawn from circulation. Debts 

^ Col. Willctt of Westchester did not attend. Col. Lewis Morris, jr., of 
the same place, Col. Isaac Hicks of Hempstead, and Mr. James Jackson of 
Flushing, were the Commissioners to whom these pieces of plate were voted. 
It would be curious to know what has become of these tankards, or whether 
any of them are still owned by the heirs of those gentlemen. 
Mass. Court Files, iii. 69-72. 



were ptiid at a loss of some tliirty-tliree per cent, to the CHAP, 
creditor, and a fearful stride towards the inipendiiig bank- 
ruptcy was made. 1733. 

Except the clergy of the Church of England, the 
Quakers were the only religious society whose preachers 
were, as yet, antliorized to perform the marriage ceremony. 
This privilege had been accorded by the King. The As- Dec. 3. 
sembly now empowered the ministers of all denominations 
to unite persons in marriage, and established the legal fee 
on such occasions at three shillings. The free passage of 
Pawtucket bridge had been obstructed by adjacent land- 
owners and toll demanded. This was deemed a nuisance, 
which the authorities of Providence county were directed 
to abate. The appeal to the King upon the eastern boun- 
dary dispute was sent to England. 

Soon after the Assembly rose. Gov. Wanton died. 
His long career of public service had endeared him to the 
colonists, and his daring naval exploits had won for him 
the regai'd of his sovereign. In consequence of these, 
when the two brothers afterwards visited England, they 
were received at court, and presented by Queen Anne 
with a silver punch bowl and salver. They were further 
honored by the addition to their family coat of arms of 
the device of a gamecock alighting on a hawk. For the 
past two years they had enjoyed the unequalled honor, as 
brothers, of being associated in the highest offices of the 

There was a session of the Assembly at Warwick during 1783-4 
the winter, at which only private business was transacted. -^|^* 

^ A good story is told of Wm. Wanton in Deane's Scituate. Before his 
removal from that place to Newport, prior to 1*700, he had married Ruth 
Bryant, daughter of a Congregational deacon. Wanton's family were Qua- 
kers. " Religious objections were made to the match on both sides. He 
said, 'Frietid Ruth, let us break from this unreasonable bondage — / will 
give up 7ny religion, and thou shalt thine, and we will go over to the Church 
of England, and go to the devil together.'' They fulfilled this resolution so 
fa.'-," says our author, " as to go to the Church of England, and marrying^ 
and adhering to the Church of England during life." 
VOL. II. — 44 



CHAP. The petition of Rhode Island upon the eastern houn- 
3^ darj dispute, was presented to the King. It set forth the 
:T34. charter limits of the colony, and that Massachusetts 
-^^^'^^ claimed about twenty thousand acres east of Pawtucket 
River, besides the three miles east of Karraganset bay, 
that were clearly granted to Rhode Island. 
Mayl. John Wanton was chosen governor, and George Ilas- 
sard deputy-governor at the spring election. This con- 
tinued for live years. The House now comprised thirty- 
six deputies, who with the ten assistants and three general 
officers, secretary, attorney, and treasurer, made the num- 
ber of a full Assembly forty -nine. The sheriffs, formerly 
general, had now become connty officers. 
^^^^ Massachusetts wrote to request an exchange of prison- 
ers, promising fair trials in their own courts of any com- 
plaints against them. Agreeably to this request, the As- 
sembly returned a prisoner to the custody of that province 

17. for trial. Some damage had resulted from backwater at 
Oct. vai'ious mill dams in the colony. The Assembly at Provi- 
so, dence passed their first law on the subject of flowage, re- 
quiring mill owners to make ponds, and regulating the 
modes of assessing damages by a jury, in such cases, and 
of settling controversies among the owners of mills. 
Bridges over, the south branch of Pawtuxet River, and 
at the point in IS^ewport, were ordered. 

Dec. The Rhode Island boundary petition was referred by 

1^- the Privy Council to the Plantations' Committee, and by 

1734-5 them to the Board of Trade, in the usual course. The 

' asrent of Massachusetts was notified in due form, and thus 
13. ^ 

the matter rested for two years, while the replies were 

■p^^ The winter session of the Assembly was the first ever 

18. held at Greenwich. Attention was directed to the preser- 
vation of oysters in the bay, large quantities of them hav- 
ing been taken to burn for lime. The town councils were 
emT^owered to prevent this wasteful destruction. The at- 



tempt to cut tliroiigli tlie beacli at Block Island was re- CIIAP. 

ported by the conniiittee to be a failure. They were ^ 

therefore ordered to repair and enlarge the old pier. Fort 1735. 
George had been completed at a cost of ten thousand "^^^ ^' 
pounds, but was not fully armed. The colony again pe- 
titioned for cannon and round shot to mount the battery, 
which was referred, as usual, to the Board of Trade.' 

At the general election no change was made. The 7. 
Block Island pier was the only matter of interest at the '^"^^ 
adjourned session. Too much timber had been purchased 
for it ; the contractor was sued by the dealers, and the 
Assembly ordered it to be sold, except enough to finish 
the pier. The harbor at Westerly being closed by the 
tilling of the outlet from the salt pond, it was proposed to Aug. 
divert the course of Pawcatuck River into the pond, so as 
to secure a good harbor, by keeping this outlet always 
open, and deepening the water on the bar. The Assem- 
bly agreed to pay three-fourths of the expense of this 
work, if Westerly w^ould keep up the bridges, and pay the 
remainder. To protect the river fisheries it was forbidden 
to erect dams or weirs on any stream to hinder the pas- 
sage of fish, or to catch them, for three days in the week, 
except by hook and line. Leave was granted to George 
Taylor to teach a school in a chamber of the county house 
in Providence, on certain conditions.'" Aid was given to 
build bridges over both branches of the Pawtuxet Piver 
on the Plainfield Poad in Scituate. The Court of Yice- 
Admiralty sometimes exceeded their proper jurisdiction 
in trying causes, not of a maritime nature, that were 
brought before them. The judges of the Superior Court 
were empowered to issue injunctions upon such proceed- 
ings in future. This was a bold measure, for the Admiral- 
ty Court, being of royal appointment, would be likely to 

^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii. s. 48. 

" He is the second schoolmaster of whom there is any record in Provi- 
dence. The first was Wni. Tiirpin, more than fifty years before a teacher 
in Providence, and now the town treasurer. 



CHAP, assert inrisdictioii paraniouiit to the colonial tribunals, 
and to claim the exclusive construction of its own powers, 
^^othing was done at the session in South Kingstown. 
In reply to a letter from the Board of Trade, inquiring 
what revenue duties were laid upon British connnerce in 
this colony, Gov. Wanton wrote, tliat the impost on slaves 
brought from the West Indies, having been removed, 
there were now no duties levied here atfecting the direct 
trade with England.' 

A fearful epidemic, known as the throat distemper," 
which appeared in the spring in New Hampshire, con- 
tinued through the year and till the following summer, 
extending as far as Carolina. It is described as a " swelled 
throat, with white or ash-colored specks, an efflorescence 
on the skin, great debility of the whole system, and a 
strong tendency to putridity." It was the greatest scourge 
ever known in New England, and especially fatal to chil- 
dren. Among the losses sustained by this colony, but 
whether from the prevailing epidemic or not is unknown^ 
1735-6 was that of Gabriel Bernon, the distinguished Huguenot, 
who for nearly forty years had been a resident of Rhode 
Island. The first three Episcopal churches in the colony 
owed their origin to his untiring zeal. He died at the 
advanced age of ninety-one years and ten months, and 
was buried beneath St. John's Church, with unusual 
marks of respect. 
18. The Assembly, at its w^inter session gave their princi- 
pal attention to bridges. No less than six, three on the 
Plainfield Road, one at Woonsocket, at Newport, and at 
Queen's River in South Kingstown, were ordered to be 
1786 repaired. 

]^Iav The May session had of late been devoted exclusively 
^ <^ 5. fo the admission of freemen to the general election ; put- 
ting all other business over to the adjournment. The 

^ Br. S. p. 0., Proprieties, vol. xiii., s. 70. 
2 Belknap's N. Hamp., ii. 118. 



town councils had long possessed full power to open liigli- CIIAP. 
ways, and to assess damages connected therewith, wliich • 
was again contirnied. A line of stages between Boston 1736. 
and Newport was established, and exclusive privileges '^J^j'^ 
for seven years, were granted by the Assembly to encour- Oct. 
age tlie enterjM-ise. A law w^as passed to prevent bribery 
at elections. Both offenders were to forfeit double the 
sum offered or received, and to be debarred the right of 
voting for three years. 

The reply of Massachusetts to the Ehode Island ap- 1736-7 
peal, was presented to the Board of Trade, claiming the ^' 
whole tract east of Narraganset Bay and Pawtucket 
River under the Plymouth colony patent, confirmed, as 
was contended, by the royal commissioners in 1664.' 
That adjustment was not considered by the commissioners 
themselves to be final, but only temporary, till the King's 
wdll could be known ; but the tacit consent of both colo- 
nies since that time had given a color of right to the Mas- 
sachusetts claim. 

The winter session, held for the second time at Green- Feb. 
wich, was occupied with private business. His Majesty's 
ship Tartar, of twenty guns, being in the harbor of New- ]y;ay 4. 
port, the Assembly ordered that " a score of the best sheep 
that may be got be presented " to her commander, Mat- 
thew Norris, for the use of the crew. Heretofore the ex- 
penses of jurors were paid out of the treasury, but this 
being found inconvenient, the Assembly fixed the fees at June 
six shillings a day, they to defray their own expenses. 
To preserve the perch in Easton's pond, it was forbidden 
to draw seines or nets either in the pond or creek. The 
earliest law exempting active firemen from military or 
jury duty, was enacted in favor of the two engine compa- 
nies recently organized in Newport.'^ 

New Hampshire was involved in a dispute with Mas- 

^ See chap, ix., Vol. i., p. 315. 
111 Feb., 1763, this exemption was extended to the firemen in Provi- 



CHAP, sacliiisetts respecting her eastern and southern boundaries. 

It was referred to a board of twenty commissioners, five 
1737. each from the councils of New York, New Jersey, Rhode 
Island, and ISTova Scotia, of whom five should form a 
Aug. quorum. Eight of these, three from Nova Scotia and the 
^- five from Rhode Island,' met at Hampton, and were after- 
Sept, ward joined by Philip Livingston from New York, who 
^- was made president. The decree of the commissioners as 
to the eastern line was definite, and was confirmed by the 
King ; that upon the southern line was contingent upon 
the construction of the Massachusetts charter. Both 
parties appealed, and New Hampshire ultimately gained 
on the south more than she had claimed before the com- 
missioners. Meanwhile, the dispute between Massachu- 
setts and Rhode Island was progressing in England. Mr. 
Partridge presented to the Board of Trade his answer to 
Oct. the memorial of the Massachusetts agent,"" in reply to the 
Rhode Island petition. It is a document of great length, 
combatting the position of Wilkes in twenty sections, 
seventeen of wdiich relate to the Attleboro' gore, and the 
remainder to the eastern shore, wdiere the towns of Tiver- 
ton and Seconnet, with the greater part of Bristol, and 
Freetown are claimed under the charter of King Charles." 
26. Nothing of public interest was done by the Assembly 
]^ov South Kingstown. There w^as an adjourned session at 
22. Newport, at w^hich a fifth judge of Common Pleas for 
each county was appointed, to avoid the inconvenience of 
a tie in the decisions of the bench. Power was given to 
town councils to remove any person who, by vote of the 
L737 8 ^^^^'^^5 might be rejected as an inhabitant. At the next 
Feb. adjourned session, an act was passed to secure the interest 
on the bills of credit loaned to individuals, much of which 
had been lost by their removal from the colony. The 
principal was secured by mortgage, but the interest was 

^ Samuel Vernon, John Gardner, John Potter, Ezekiel Warner, and 
George Cornell. Belknap's N. Hamp., ii. 134. 

' Francis Wilkes. ^ Br. S. P. 0., Proprieties, vol. 14. 



not. A purchaser wlio bought lands under mortgage, CIIAP. 
became responsible for the principal, but not for the in- 
terest. It was now enacted that no transfer to such pur- 17;i7-8 
chaser should be valid, without a proper bond given bv 
him for the payment of interest also. 

■ At the spring election, the same officers were chosen. 1738. 
^N^othing was done at the adjourned session. The death "^jJJ^jg^* 
of the deputy-governor, Hon. George Ilassard, who, for 13. 
five successive years had l)een elected to tliat office, occa- 
sioned a sj^ecial meeting of the Assembly, at which Daniel 
Abbott was chosen as his successor. The Assembly then '^^^^ 
adjourned till the next month, when the town of Westerly Aug. 
was divided, and Charlestown set off from it ; each town 
to send two deputies to the legislature. A new bank, the 
sixth, of one hundred thousand pounds w^as created, on 
the same terms as the former loans, except that the in- 
terest, as well as the principal, w^as secured by mortgage 
on real estate. At the autumn session in Providence, Oct. 
nothing was done. 

The papers relating to the eastern boundary having all 
been presented, and several hearings had by the agents May 
before the Board of Trade, they reported to the Planta- 
tions' Committee, recommending that commissioners 
from the neighboring provinces be appointed by the King 
to determine the line. Against this recommenda.tiou, 
Wilkes petitioned the King, reciting the substance of his June 
memorial to the Board of Trade in reply to Rhode Island, 
and praying that no new counnissions should be granted. 
His petition took the usual course of reference to the j^^iy 
Plantations' Committee, before whom the cause was again 20. 
argued by the agents, and the petition was rejected as -^^^y 
being frivolous and vexatious. This second report being 1. 
made to the Privy Council, an order was given dire(;ting 30. 
commissions to be issued for settling the line ; but nearly 
two years elapsed before this was done. Four pirates, 
tried at the October term, were executed this month at 



CHAP. Tlie Assembly were in tlie habit of adiournino: the 

YV on 

regular May and October sessions, often to dilferent 

1738. counties. At an adjourned session in Providence, it was 
■^g^' decided that the adjournments in future should be to 

some town in the same county where the regular session 

for that season was held. Another law to prevent illegal 

voting was passed ; whoever should put in two votes was 

to be deprived of his franchise for three years, and to 

forfeit two pounds, and any unqualified person voting 

1738-9 ^yas to be fined the same amount. A further adiourn- 

20 ' ment was made to Warwick. A new colony house was 
ordered for Newport. The bridges at Woonsocket, Paw- 
tucket, and Cliepachet received additional aid froni the 
treasury. The towns were empowered to assess traders 
from abroad for a fair proportion of the expenses of the 
local governments. 

1739. j^i the annual election, Daniel Abbott was chosen 
Mav 2 ^ . 

' ' ' deputy-governor, thus confirming the act of the Assembly, 

and John Wanton was re-elected governor. A commit- 
tee, instructed by this Assembly, wrote to Massachusetts 
concerning the eastern boundary, proposing another effort 
to settle the dispute by a joint commission, and thus save 
the heavy expense of further litigation in England. The 
9. General Court referred the letter to a coimiiittee of both 
houses to report thereon. They recommended the ap- 
11- pointment of commissioners, with full powers to arrange 
the whole controversy with those equally empowered by 
Phode Island, and in case of disagreement, then this joint 
commission should select seven men to determine the 
'^^^y matter. The report was adopted, and commissioners were 
appointed at the next meeting of the General Court. 
10- The Assembly promptly seconded this conciliatory meas- 
ure, by appointing commissioners to meet them, and re- 
quiring that the business should be adjusted within three 
Aug. months. At a special session soon afterward, they au- 
thorized the commissioners in case of disagreement, to 
remit to England the necessary funds to defray the charges 




of taking out the commission recommended by the Board CITAP. 
of Trade. 

Tlie publication of Callender's Century Sermon, tlie 1739. 
only authentic account of early Ehode Island, embracing 
the first century of the history of Aquedneck, was tlie great 
literary event of this year. In a tone of (iandor, and with 
a freedom from sectarian bias, the more remarkable from 
his nearness to the exciting period he describes, the rev- 
erend author narrates the sufferings of the first (colonists 
in a spirit that illustrates the religion he professed. The 
accuracy of his narrative, so far as he descends to details, 
leaves little for the later historian to correct, and awakens 
regret that the plan of his Discourse, did not permit him 
to enlarge his work to the scope and dimensions of a civil 
history. From him we learn that at this time there were 
thirty-three churches of the several denominations in the 
colony, of which twelve were Baptist, ten Quakers, six 
Congregational or Presbyterian, and five Episcopalian, 
besides other religious assemblies, not yet organized into 
churches, and having no regular houses of w^orship. Mr. Cal- 
lender's own church, the Baptist, outnumbered any other, 
and, excluding the Quakers, all others in the colony, and 
was represented in every town. A degree of harmony in 
Christian intercourse prevailed among the several churches, 
which might be vainly sought elsewhere until a very re- 
cent period. The voluntary j^rinciple had achieved its own 
triumph, and was exerting upon the neighboring colonies 
the powerful though silent influence, of successful example. 

Note. — The following note should be appended to line 23 on page 114. 
— The earliest mill grant in R. I. was made in 1646, to John Smith to 
estabhsh a grist-mill. He was to pay the cost of " the stampers " that had 
been imported from England by the colonists, amounting to about £100. 
These wooden stampers were used to pulverize corn. The mill was located 
Just above Mill Bridge, in Providence. The street leading up the hill from 
the mill was called Stampers street, probably from these works rather than 
from the tradition cited in note 3, p. 258, vol. i. In excavating for the Black- 
stone Canal, many years ago, some of the old timbers forming the bottom of 
the dam were discovered. This was no doubt the first hydraulic work in 
this State, if not in New England. 





CHAP. The alarm of war again roused the martial spirit of tlie 
^^.^ colony. The affairs of Spain were hui-rying that power 
1739. into a conflict with Great Britain, which -the genius of 
^yalpole and the peaceful policy of the British ministry 
could no longer avert. Bumors of a ministerial crisis, 
involving the peace of Europe, had reached the colonies, 
Aug. and Bhode Island prepared for a flght upon her favorite 
21- element, the sea. The governor was instructed to grant 
all privateer commissions that he should deem needful, 
pursuant to the King's warrant. Three of the principal 
merchants of Newport' fitted out a ship innnediately, 
receiving her armament from the public stores. The ac- 
tion was none too rapid. Already had the Bight of Search 
been exercised by the Spaniards, under their treaty with 
England, in a manner to give offence to the latter power. 
Spain had not yet lost the supremacy of the sea wdiich, 
before the age of Elizabeth, she had held undisputed. 
She was still a first-rate maritime power, and defended 
her privilege with equal firmness, but with far less inso- 
lence than was shown at a later day, upon the same ques- 

^ Godfrey Malbone, John Brown, and George Wanton. 



tion, by her great rival. The violation of treaty stipiila- CIIAP. 
tions regulating trade between England and the Spanish ^' 
American colonies was incessant. The shrewdness of 173&. 
British merchants, overleaping all the bounds of law, com- 
pelled Spain to a rigid exercise of her right, under the 
treaty, to search vessels suspected of contraband trading. 
All experience has shown that this right of search, how- 
ever limited, can have no vital existence without imperil- 
ing the peace of nations. And here it may be added, 
that history has equally proved that successive maritime 
States have resisted this right wdiile exerted against them- 
selves, and in turn asserted it when they had won the 
dominion of the seas. May it never prove that the United 
States, after their glorious vindication of the freedom of 
the seas in the last war with Great Britain, shall follow 
the historic example, by claiming exclusive rights here- 
after, and sacrifice their noblest principle to gratify the 
cravings of national ambition ! The war about commenc- 
ing, was ostensibly a struggle for the freedom of the Brit- 
ish flag against what were termed the arrogant pretensions 
of Spain. It was, in fact, a war of commercial rivalry, in 
which the trade of Spanish America was to be the prize. 
The undefined limits of Georgia, and the payment of the 
Spanish debt, w^ere insignificant causes by the side of this 
brilliant guerdon. 

The Whig ministry were finally overborne by the 
popular clamor, and Walpole committed the great error 
of his political life in retaining his place at the expense of 
his principles and convictions. War was declared amidst Oct. 
extravagant demonstrations of joy ; but the remark of the 
Premier was verified w^itliin ten years, when the ringing 
of bells gave place to the wringing of hands. 

There was another point, dii'ectly aftecting British 
interests, connected with the trade between the colonies 
and the West Indies, upon which this war was to exert a 
material influence. The molasses act," as it was termed, 
had been passed six years before, imposing a heavy tax 



CHAP, upon West India products imported from foreign islands, 
J^^^ especially the French, into the northern colonies. Ehodo 
1739. Island protested against this act, on the ground that it 
Avas only by this pi'oduce that she could be paid for her 
exports thither, and thereby be enabled to purchase Eng- 
lish manufactures. Newport was largely engaged in dis- 
tilling rum, which interfered in some measure with the 
trade of the English sugar islands. The other colonies 
ecpially opposed the act, and Partridge, the Rhode Island 
agent, conducted the affair for them also. In his letter 
to the Board of Trade, enclosing the petition, he claimed 
that the bill divested the colonists of their rights as Eng- 
lishmen, in laying taxes against their consent, and with- 
out their being represented on the floor of Parliament. 

The war-cry of revolution, wdiich w^as ere long to rally 
the American colonies in the struggle for independence, 
was here first sounded by the Quaker agent of Rhode Isl- 
and, to cease only with the dismemberment of the British 
empire. Further restrictions w^ere proposed to be placed 
Oct. upon the West India trade. The Assembly therefore re- 
quested the governor to " w^rite to our agent, strenuously 
to oppose at home the making any addition to the sugar 
act, that so much affects the northern plantations ; and 
that his Honor also write to the neighboring governments, 
requesting them to join with us in opposing the same." 

Notice was sent to Massachusetts, that Rhode Island 
would proceed no farther in the attempt to obtain an 
amicable adjustment of the eastern boimdary, but w^ould 
await the royal commission. The marks and bounds set 
up on the western line, requiring renewal, a joint com- 
mittee of the two colonies had been appointed for the pur- 
pose three years before. The Connecticut men had failed 
to attend upon several appointments, and the Rhode Isl- 
and committee therefore j)i"Oceeded alone to renew the 
Kov. stone heaps and tree marks along the whole line, occupy- 
15-20. -jjjg days in the work. Their report was made at an 



adjourned session of the Assembly in South Kingstown, chap. 
and entered in fidl upon the records. ^^-L 

The news of the declaration of war with Spain, occa- 
sioned a special session of the Assembly at the same place. 2G. 
The small pox had again broken out in the colony. A 
quarantine house was built on Dutch Island, and relief 
extended to the towns of Portsmouth and Jamestown, for 
"their care of the sick. But the chief purpose of this extra 
session was to place the colony upon a war establishment, 
A garrison of lifty-two .men, under command of CoL 
John Cranston, was thrown into Fort George, and the 
works were put in lighting order. Military stores were 
provided. Troops were sent to New Shoreham, and a 
mounted battery of six heavy guns was furnished for the 
defence of Block Island. Seven watchtowers were erect- 
ed along the coast and on the shores of the bay, in which 
the towns where they were located were to keep a con- 
stant guard under direction of the council of war. Five 
beacons were established upon commanding heights, the 
outermost at Block Island, and the northernmost at Ports- 
mouth, to convey intelligence of any hostile demonstra- 
tion. Thus much being done for internal defence, the 
colony ordered the sloop Tartar, of one hundred and 
fifteen tons, to be built for war purposes, and during the 
coming year five privateers, manned by four hundred 
men, were fitted out by the merchants of Newport, to 
cruise against the Spaniards. 

At the spring election, John Wanton was again chosen 1740. 
governor, and Pichard Ward, who some years before had ^^y"^^ 
been secretary of the colony, was elected deputy -governor. 
Advices of the intended expedition under Admiral Yer- 
non against the Spanish West Indies, with orders to raise 
troops to join the royal squadron at Jamaica, having 
been received in the colonies, the Assembly at once 
enlisted soldiers and provided two transports to convey 
them. Ihe colony sloop Tartar, being completed, was J""« 
armed by order of the Assembly, with twelve carnage 



CHAP, and as many swivel guns, and fitted for sea under com- 
^^^jj^ mand of Captain Cranston. She was a spacious vessel 
1740. of lier class, liaving deck-room sufficient for a hundred men 
June to engage in battle. Gov. Belcher of Massachusetts in- 
30. formed Gov. AVanton that a suspicious looking sliip had 
appeared off tlie coast. The Tartar immediately sailed in 
pursuit, captured the vessel, which proved to be a French 
contraband schooner, and brought her into Newport, 
where she was condemned by the Vice Admiralty Court. 
July 5. It was at this exciting juncture, when the deeds in 
which the old governor had won so much distinction in 
his youth were being re-enacted, that John Wanton died. 
For the past twelve years, the first five as deputy -gov- 
ernor and the last seven as chief magistrate, he had held 
the highest offices of the State — a merited return for the 
higher honor that his personal qualities had long before 
conferred upon the colony. The Assembly convened to 
fill the vacancy, promoted Kichard Ward to the position 
15. of governor, and elected William Greene in his place as 

Orders were received from the head-quarters at New 
York for only two con^ipanies, of one hundred men each, 
to be drafted in Rhode Island, and two English lieutenants 
came on to collect them. This caused the discharge of a 
large number of soldiers enlisted in May, who were now 
paid oflf. Captain Joseph Sheffield had command of the 
first company that was equipped at Newport in the spring. 
The Providence company was commanded by Capt. Wil- 
Aug. liam Hopkins. When all was prepared for sailing, the 
Assembly invited the commissioned officers to dine with 
the court, and entertained the soldiers at public expense. 
Sept. The transports sailed for New York with the two com- 
panies, to join the grand squadron at Jamaica, soon after- 
ward destined to a fatal repulse before the stupendous 
fortress of Carthagena. 

The arrival of George Whitefield, who, for some time 
had been preaching in the southern and middle colonies. 



formed an era in the religious history of New Enghmd. CIIAP- 
The " great revival " had ah*eady commenced, under the J^^, 
lead of Jonathan Edwards, wlien Whitefield's thrilling 1740,. 
eloquence carried the excitement to its height. Com- 
mencing at Newport, whither great crowds resorted to 
hear him from all parts of the colony, he travelled through 
other portions of New England for six months before his 
return to London. The extravagancies of the new con- 
verts, roused the opposition of many in the established 
church, especially in Connecticut, but a large 2:)ortion of 
the ministers, among whom was Edwards, looked with 
favor u})on his work, and recognised in it a divine in- 

In contrast with the demonstrative character of the 
great revivalist, came the calm Quaker, Samuel Fotlier- 
gill, an eminent preacher among the Friends. He re- 
mained for some months in Newport at the house of his 
brother-in-law, John Proud. The influence of both these 
celebrated preachers, was long felt throughout the colony, 
in the rapid increase of the Quaker and Baptist societies, 
most of Whitefl eld's converts uniting with the latter 

The emission of paper money by the colonies, had April 
already occupied the attention of Parliament. The 25, 
House of Commons addressed the King, urging that a full 
account of all these issues should be obtained, to lay 
before the House. An order in council was passed, calling 
on the Board of Trade to furnish the facts. The Board 
required every colony to send a statement of the amount. May 
tenor, and sterling value of the bills of credit issued by 
each, with a plan for their redemption in the most easy and 
efl'ectual manner. The address of the Commons, com- j^^^ 
plaining of the injuries to British commerce caused by 19. 
these bills, was soon afterward sent to Rhode Island by 
the Board, Avith information that circulars had been sent 
to all the royal governments in America, suspending the 



CHAP, fvirtlier issue of 2:>aper iiionev.' This was a significant 
v^..^-^ warning to the charter and proprietary governments, but 
IT-Jro. iiiitbrtunately it was not regarded by lihode Island. The 
expenses of the war demanded another loan of public 
credit. The Assembly therefore created a new bank of 
Sept. twenty thousand pounds for ten years, at four per cent. 
The former bills had merely expressed on the face their 
nominal value in pounds, shillings, and pence, but in 
these it Avas attempted to fix the value by further stating 
the exact amount of gold or silver that they should repre- 
sent. Hence they were termed Kew Tenor bills. The 
rate established estimated silver at nine shillings an ounce, 
and gold at £6, ISs ^d. an ounce. Besides this new bank, 
an issue of ten thousand pounds of the old tenor bills was 
made to supply the treasury. The value of silver in the 
old bills was twenty-seven shillings an ounce. Against 
these proceedings, two assistants' and five deputies^ en- 
tered a protest u})on the records, giving as tlieir reasons 
for disapproval, that the new act would depreciate the 
outstanding bills, injure trade, and oppress those whose 
estates were in money, and was impolitic in view of the 
Oct. ^ate action in Parliament. At the next session a repre- 
29- sentation of the whole paper money system was ordered 
to be drawn uj), in reply to the enquiries of the Board of 
Trade. The last communication from that source, made it 
expedient to amend the bank act so far as to make the 
value of silver conform to the English standard, which 
Dec. 2. was done at an adjourned session held in Warwick. In- 

^ These letters from the Board of Trade on the paper currency are 
printed in R. I. Coh Rec, vol. v., p. 7. 
^ Benjamin Ellery and Peter Bours. 

^ William Ellery, William Antlioiiy, Ezbon Sandford, George Goulding^ 
George Lavvton. The last clause of the protest is worthy of record. " Be- 
cause the niin of this flourishing colony will probably in a great measure be 
owing to this fatal act ; we would have the whole colony and posterity know 
we have not deserved their imprecations on this occasion, but have endeav- 
ored to preserve and deliver down to posterity the privileges and the prop- 
erty which our ancestors earned with so much hazard, toil, and expense." 



stead of nine sliillings an ounce, tlie newLilLs stated silver chap. 
at six sliillings and ninepenee sterling, and gold at five ^ ^' 
])()un(ls an ounce, so that a new tenor bill was four times 17-40. 
the value of an old bill, and was soon afterward recjuired 
to be taken at that rate in business exchanges. 

The notice sent by Rhode Island that the boundary 
question must be determined by a royal commission, left 
nothiui^ further to be done than for these commissions 
to be sued out in England. The Board of Trade therefore 
wrote to the governor, requiring the ap[)ointment of two 
officers in Rhode Island upon whom all pror-esses in the 
case might be served, and al^o that a full statement of tlie 
boundaries claimed should be furnished. The royal letters 
patent were issued to five gentlemen from each of the Sept. 
provinces of 'New York, New Jersey, and Xova Scotia, any 
iive of whom were to be a quorum, to settle the eastern 
line of Rhode Island. The commissioners were to meet 
at Providence on the first Tuesday in April ensuing, and 
to annex to their final report a map or draught of the 
boundaries agreed upon. Either coloriy might appeal 
within three months after the decision had been rendered, 
and if no such appeal was then taken, the decision was to 
be final upon confirmation by the King. All expenses 
were to be equally divided between the litigants.' The 
Assembly ordered copies of the commission to be sent Dec. 2. 
to each of the gentlemen therein named, with letters to 
those at Annapolis Royal, informing them that a vessel 
would be sent from Rhode Island to bring them hither at 
the appointed time. A committee was apj^ointed to pre- 
pare the case, and to conduct it before the commissioners, 
and also to provide accommodations for them during their 
stay in Providence. Massachusetts also a]>pointed a com- 31. 
mittee to prepare her case, and named the two officers 
required in the commission. 

The representation concerning paper currency, was at 

^ The letter and commission, containing the names of the 15 coniniis- 
gioners, are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iv. 586-90. 
VOL. II. — 45 



€HAP. last sent to the Board of Trade, signed by Gov. Ward. 
^3^^ It is a A^erj long and interesting document, reciting the 
IT-iO-l objects and the history of these issues, with a sketch of 9. ^Yie condition of the colony. From this we learn that the 
commerce of Rhode Island had greatly increased within 
ten years, since the last returns, and now numbered a 
hundred and twenty vessels engaged in the West Indian, 
African, European, and Coasting trade, of wliich seven or 
eight were employed in direct trade with England, hereto- 
fore chiefly conducted by Boston merchants.^ 

The exigencies of war demanded a revision of the mi- 
litia system. France was about to ally with Spain, so 
that further measures were recpiired to defend the colony. 
The Assembly repealed the act empowering the soldiers 
to choose their own oflicers, and vested that right where 
the charter placed it, in the legislature. A permanent 
coui:cil of war, to consist of the governor and council, 
with the field-officers and captains, was established. A 
more thorough drill-system was adopted. Two additional 
companies were raised in Newport. Fort George was 
enlarged so as to mount ten more cannon. A powder 
magazine of brick was constructed, and the military stores 
were increased in every county. Ten new field-pieces 
were ordered. Those whose consciences forbade their 
fighting, were required to act as scouts or guards, to fur- 
nish their horses for service in case of alarm, and to do 
any other duty not repulsive to their religious views. The 
war sloop Tartar was fitted to be ready for sea in the 
sj^ring. These preparations occupied the entire session. 
The governor was requested to despatch a suitable ves- 
3741 ^ovsi Scotia to bring the boundary commissioners 

Mar.* to Providence. Massachusetts added two members to 
^"^^ the committee appointed to prepare her case, one of whom 
was William Shirley, who, a few months later, succeeded 
SI, Belcher as governor of the province. A briet statement 

» Printed in R. L Col. Roc, vol. v., p. 8-14. 



of the claim to he sul>initted to tlie commissioners was CHAP, 
reported, asserting the middle of the east passage of Nar- 
raganset Bay, and so np the Pawtucket River to the 1741. 
starting point of the northern line of Rhode Island, as run 
in 1719, to be the proper boundary of the two colonies. The 
General Assend)ly empowered their committee to employ April 
counsel, and named tlie two officers' required by the com- 
mission, upon whom ^^I'ocess might be served. On the 
appointed day, only two of the commissioners' appeared. 7. 
The commission was read, clerks were chosen, and the 
claims were presented and hied. Rhode Island claimed, 
under the royal charter, from a point three miles east- 
north-east of Assonet, due south to the ocean, and wester- 
ly to Fox Point ; thence by the east bank of the river to 
Pawtucket falls, and thence due north to the Massachu- 
setts line. The court met and adjourned every week, 
awaiting the arj'ival of more members, until the end of the 
month, wdien three others^ having arrived, a quorum Avas 30. 
made. Two surveyors" were appointed to prepare plans 
for the use of the court. The next day the clerks were or- May 1. 
dered to issue summonses for witnesses, and two officers 
were named' to serve them. The surveyors were required 2. 
to prepare a plat of the whole of Rhode Island, as well as 
of the territory in dispute. The court adjourned from 
time to time through the month, awaiting their report. 
The General Assembly voted a salary of six shillings ster- 
ling, per diem, to each of the commissioners in attendance, 
besides one half of their expenses. Three other members 

^ Ezekiel Warner and George Brown 
^ Archibald Kennedy and James Delancey, of Xew York. 
^ William Skene, William Shirelf, and Erasmus James Pliillips, of Xova 

* James Helnie of South Kingstown, and WiUiam Chandler of Thomp- 
son, Conn. 

^ Nathaniel Church of Bristol for Mass., and Themas Rice of Warwick 
for R. 1. 



CHAP, of tlie court arrived early in the month/ one of whom, 
3^ Cadwallader Golden, was made president. Several ad- 
1741. jonrnments were had until the witnesses could be collect- 
June ed, when the examination was commenced, and continued 
^' from day to day through the month. A vast amount of 
record evidence was presented, and a great number of tes- 
timonies taken, the whole occupying a large volume.'* 
When this was concluded, and the surveyors had made 
24. their report, the pleading commenced. The two attorneys 
25-6. for Ehode Island^ opened the case. The two following days 
o^j- were occupied by the three attorneys for Massachusetts,* 
and then the Ttliode Island counsel made the closing ar- 
gument. The charter of Connecticut was offered as evi- 

29, deuce on the part of Massachusetts, and received. The 
judgment of the court was made up and filed the next 

30. day. Defining Narraganset bay to end at Bullock's Pointy 
it gave to Rliode Island all the land within three miles 
of the shore, south and east of a line measured tliree miles 
north-east from the end of Bullock's Neck, and designated 
five places, to the south and east, whence the three-mile 
lines were to be run, to define this eastern boundary. 
From the south-west corner of Bullock's Neck to Paw- 
tucket falls, high w^ater mark was to be the dividing line, 
and thence, a due north line to the established southern 
line of Massachusetts was to complete the boundary. An 
attested copy of the judgment, w^th the accompanying map, 

j^jy was given to the agents of each party, and the court ad- 
journed to the fourth of September. 

Massachusetts decided to appeal from every j^art of 
27f the judgment as being grievous and injurious. Rhode 
Island objecting to the limits given to Narraganset Bay, 
that Bullock's Neck, instead of Fox Point, was taken as 

^ Cadwallader Golden and Philip Livingstone of New York, and Otho 
Hamilton of New Jersey. 

2 Br. S. P. 0., America, No. 378. 

^ Daniel Updike and William BoUam. 

* John Read, Samuel Weltes, and William Shirley. 



tlie moutli of Providence Eiver, and that Assonet was not CHAP, 
considered as the north-east point of tlie bay, whereby a 
smaller territory, and a more complicated line, than she 
claimed, were assigned to her, appealed from that portion 
of the judgment, but accepted the remainder. Both ap- 
peals were entered at the meeting of the court, held for 
that purpose. Two subsequent meetings w^ere held, at 
which costs were taxed, the records of the court were 
ordered to be deposited with the secretary of New York, 8. 
and three copies to be made, one to be sent to England, 
and one for each of the litigating parties, after which the 
court finally adjourned. The General Assembly resolved ^g** 
to appeal to the King and voted two hundred pounds ster- 
ling for this purpose. 

In order to embrace at a single glance the whole of 
this controversy, to- its ultimate adjudication by the King, 
Ave must anticipate the current of events in the colony, 1741-2 
and transfer our attention for awhile to England. Mas- 
sachusetts appointed two agents' to conduct the appeal in Jan. 6. 
her behalf, prepared duplicate instructions and statements 
of the case for their use, and appropriated five hundred 13. 
pounds sterling to defray the expenses. The appeal was 1742. 

presented in the name of the acrents. The Rhode Island J^^ly 

.... . ^9 

petition arrived first, and was referred to the Plantation g^pj. 

Committee. Tlie same course was taken with that of 15. 

Massachusetts. More than two years elapsed before the I'i'^- 

case was fully argued by counsel, in several hearings, Nov. 

after the last of wdiich the committee reported to the ^^g^' 

King, dismissing both appeals, and confirming the deci- -p^^ 

sion of the commissioners. Kilby afterward petitioned, 11. 

in behalf of Massachusetts, for a rehearing of the case, and ^ 

Partridge, the Rhode Island agent, filed a counter peti- Feb. 

tion remonstratino^ ao-ainst it. Both of these new peti- 


tions were referred again to the Plantation Committee. 

Their report condemned the application of Kilby, and 21. 

* Robert Auchmuty and Christopher Kilby. 


CHAP, reaffirmed tlieir former decision in favor of the iudorment 
of the commissioners ; whereupon an order in council was 
1746. issued, confirming by roval decree the decision of the 
"^28^ court, and finally settling the eastern boundary of Rhode 
Island in accordance therewith. This closed, at least 
during the colonial period, a controversy which was 
coeval with the charter of King Charles, and had vir- 
tually commenced soon after the settlement of Aquedneck. 
A century later was to witness the revival of this territo- 
rial dispute before another tribunal, upon gi-ounds ecjually 
untenable with those that were thus summarily dismissed 
by the Privy Council. 
Nov. Soon after the royal decree was received in Rhode 
Island, the Assembly appointed a committee' to run the 
line, and notified Massachusetts to unite in the survey. 
Gov. Shirley refused to appoint a committee, or to con- 
vene the legislature for that purpose — a course which 
Rhode Island justly considered as but a part of the long 
series of neglects, intended to delay a settlement of the 

Dec. 2. boundarv. The committee therefore proceeded, ex parte, 
1746 7 i • • . 

Jan 6 ^'^^^^ ^'^^^ ^^^^^ according to the royal decree, and their 

report was accepted by the Assembly. Gov. Shirley re- 
ferred to the subject in his speech to the General Court, 
but the committee to whom the matter was referred, re- 
14. ported that it was inexpedient to proceed further. Thus 
the aftair remained till after the adoption of the constitu- 
tion of the United States. 
1741. will now return to the period when the boimdary 

April dispute was settled by the commissioners at Providence, 
and trace the progress of the colony since that time. The 
war sloop Tartar was armed and officered for instant ser- 
vice, and the governor was empowered to enlist one hun- 
dred men l)eside the regular crew, and to order them to 
sea whenever an enemy should ap]>ear on the coast. The 
governor and council were further authorized to lay an 


^ Jaines Honeyman, jr., Gideon Cornel, George Brown, George Wanton, 
and Walter Chaloner. 



embargo upon any or all outward bound vessels whenever CIIAP. 
they might see fit. This was the first instance of the grant J^J^ 
of these extraordinary powers, which we shall see at a 1741. 
later period were frequently exercised. April. 

James Greene and others petitioned for the right to 
place a dam across the south branch of Pawtuxet Iliver, 
in the town of Warwick, and to erect works thereu})on for 
the refining of iron. By the law for protecting fisheries, 
no permanent dam could be built across any stream ; 
hence this petition, wdiich was granted, and the old ore 
bed," afterwards so famous for the anchors and cannon 
cast there, began to be worked. Pawtucket bridge was 
again rebuilt, and William Jenckes received sixty pounds 
from the treasury for the cost of the Rhode Island half of 
the work. East Greenwich had become so ^^opulous, that 
the inhabitants petitioned for a division of the town, 
wdiich Avas made, and West Greenwich was incorporated 
with the same i-ights as the other towns. The first elec- 
tion of town officers and of de23uties to the Assembly was 21. 
held three weeks later. 

At the general election, the choice of the Assembly ;^Xav6. 
made in July previous, was confirmed by the people. 
The office of attorney-general was abolished, and a King's 
attorney for eacli county was appointed in lieu thei'cof. 
Twenty men were sent from Providence and Kings counties 
to reinforce the garrison at Blo(d^ Island for six months. 
Their pay was fixed at three pounds a month. Two thou- 
sand pounds in bills of credit of the new tenor were issued 
to supply the treasury. A form of prayer for the royal '^^l^^ 
family having been received, with an order in council for 
its use in all places of public worship, a copy of the order 
was sent to the minister or elder, of every society in the 
colony. The trial of causes taken by appeal from the 
Superior Court to the General Assenil)ly having '"by long- 
experience been found prejudicial," a court of e(puty to 
determine such appeals was appointed. It consisted of 
five judges, elected annually by the Assembly, who were 



CHAP, to decide all appeals in personal actions, " agreeably to 
-^^ ^- law and equity," as fully as the Assembly had hitherto 
1741. done. 

Two years before this time, the monuments on the 
western boundary had been renewed by Rhode Island, 
after repeated but vain efforts to obtain the concurrence 
of Connecticut in the renewal. Soon after this was done, 
Connecticut appointed a committee' to do the work, and 
it was reported that this committee had displaced the old 
bound at the south-west corner of AVarwick. The Assem- 
bly now sent surveyors to examine into the facts. They 
visited the spot and found that the great stone heap set 
up at that point had been moved about two and a half 
rods eastward from its proper place, and the tree marks 
altered to correspond ; but by whom the fraud was at- 
tempted was unknown. The san>e outrage had been per- 
petrated once before, and was detected and rectified at the 
last renewal of the bounds. The report of this committee, 
like the former one, was entered in full upon the records. 
The same reasons that led to the incorporation of 
Ang. West Greenwich, required a division of Warwick. Tlie 
18- western portion of it was therefore set off to form a new 
town called Coventry, and a warrant was issued for the 
first town meeting, at wliicli the requisite ofiicers were 

Tlie British forces having been rej)ulsed at Carthagena, 
in March, and lost more than one half their number in 
less than two days by yellow fever, designed another ex- 
pedition to retrieve their fortunes. Santiago de Cuba 
was the destined point of attack. Gen. Wentworth, com- 
manding the land forces, now reduced by sickness to three 

. 12. thousand men, sent Capt. William Hopkins home to Rhode 
Island, to muster recruits for tliis new enterprise.^ Gov. 

Oct. 6. Ward, by order of the Assembly, issued a proclamation 

^ In May, 1740. 

^ Wentworth's letter to Gov. "Ward is printed in R. I. Col. Rec. vol. v., 
p. 30. 




offering a bounty of five ponnds currency, and a watcli chap- 
coat in addition to tlie royal bounty of two pounds ster- 
ling, to all who would enlist for the invasion of Cuba. 1741. 
The Tartar was equipped to convey the recruits, and being 
filled with all the men the vessel could carry, sailed for 
Cuba. But even before the colonial recruits had sailed, 
the attempt upon Santiago was abandoned, after a recon- 
noisance of the works, to the great disgrace of the British 
commanders. The evils of a divided authority were never 
more clearly illustrated than in the first attempt of the 
English ministry against the Spanish West Indies. To 
defray the charges which this effort cost to Rhode Island, 
two thousand pounds in new tenor bills were issued. At 
the session in South Kingstown, reports w^ere made on Oct. 
the removal of the monuments at the south-west corner of 
Warwick,' and on the division lines between Warwick and 
Coventry,^ but no new" business of any interest w^as trans- 

In Providence the religious proprieties of the place ^^v. 
were startled by a bugle note of doctrinal w^ar, sounded 
by one Moses Bartlett. Dissent from the Puritan estab- 
lishment liad obtained a firm position in the stronghold 
of Presbyterian theology. Baptists had churches in Bos- 
ton, Quakers held meetings in Massachusetts, and neither 
found " aught to molest or make them afraid." Anti- 
nomian liberality had supplanted Legalist proscription in 
the home of the Puritans, but the change was offensive 
to this zealous champion of real Christianity." In a 
spirit of Quixotic piety, that would have done credit to 
the preceding century, he hurled a formal challenge at 
both divisions of the heretic camp whence the invasion of 
his cherished principles had proceeded ; and, not satisfied 
with this display of religious chivalry, or displeased, it 
may be, that his enthusiasm met no response from those 
whom it was intended to arouse, he published the dial- 24. 
lenge, a few days later, in the Boston Gazette. Perliaps 

1 See R. I. Col. Rec, v. 34. 

Ibid. 86. 



CHAP, no little sting was added to this display of bitterness by 
the fact that the great revival, which the preaching of 

1741. AVhitelield was now producing in ^^ew England, resulted, 
especially in Connecticut to which he refers, in larger ac- 
cessions of new converts to the Baptist churches than to 
those of the dominant sect ; while the presence of Fother- 
gill, the eminent Quaker preacher at Newport, was giving 
a fresh stimulus to the society of Friends. But whether 
these results were yet apparent, or Bartlett foresaw them 
with prophetic dread, his hostile missives are worth pre- 
serving as the latest curiosity of their kind.' 

1741-2 an adjourned meeting of the Assembly, the Newport 

Feb. Artillery were incorporated. This ancient corps is there- 
fore the oldest chartered company in the State, and pre- 
serves to this day the character for efficient discipline 
which the circumstances of its origin produced. 

^ Providexck, Noveynher 9, 1741. — You Baptist Elders and Teachers iu 
this town and Colony : There is a wonderful Reformation among the Pres- 
byterians in Connecticut government ; and the true everlasting gospel is 
preached among them ; but I appreliond you preach the Doctrine of Devils: 
Therefore in order to vindicate yourselves, come on, and have a public Dis- 
pute Avith me, in order to clear yourselves, or else lie under the charge ; 
which you please : You shall have as many able men as you will, if there 
be as many as there was Prophets of Baal; and we will have it all writ, 
only I will have as much time as you. It may be you will desire to know 
what People I am of; You may call mo a Piesbyterian if you please; but I 
call myself a real Christian; Moses Bartleti is my name, who wrote an an- 
swer to a letter which gave an account of a tumultuous confusion at Min. 
Noyce's house at New Haven at the time of the Commencement. 

Providence, Nove)iiber 9, 1741. 
To the Quaker Ministers in this town and Colony : There is a wonderful 
Reformation in Connecticut Colony among the Presbyterians, where the 
everlasting gospel is preached ; but I have heard some of you blaspheme 
against it abominably ; but I desire you to Dispute me in order to vindicate 
your Orders; which you call Friends Orders, for they are antiscriptural, and 
so consequently of the Devil ; You shall have the liberty to pick out as many 
able men as you please, if it be as many as there was Prophets of Baal ; only 
I will have the same measure of time as you ; and we will have it all written. 
It may be you will ask what People I am of? To which I answer, you may 
call me a Presbyterian if you please, but I call myself a real Christian. 

Moses Bartlett. 



Gov. Ward and deputy-governor Greene, were again chap. 
chosen at the spring election. The year 1742 is made 
memorable in the history of the colony and the country, 1742. 
by the birth of General Nathaniel Greene. He was born ^^fy 
at Potowomut, in the township of Warwick, which for a 
century had been the home of his ancestors, and where 
the family still retain the ancdent homestead, soon after- 
ward rendered illustrious by his martial deeds. 

The accounts relating to the expedition against the "^^^^^ 
Spaniards were examined, and allowed by the Assembly 
to the amount of more than sixty-four hundred pounds. 
The great annoyance resulting from counterfeiting tlie 
bills of credit has already been mentioned. Scarcely a 
session of the Assembly had occurred since the issue of 
the first bank, without the subject being presented in 
some form, and the courts w^ere repeatedly occupied in 
the trial of counterfeiters. The same difficulty harassed 
the neighboring colonies. The new tenor bills, from their 
greater value, were soon subjected to the same process, so 
that the first issue was called in, to be redeemed by other 
bills printed upon a new plate. A large amount of these 
bills were burnt by the Assembly. But a yet greater g^pj. 
trouble arose from the non-payment of the interest bonds. 14. 
These w^ere a constant source of litigation. To facilitate 
their collection by legal process, the plan of having a 
King's attorney for each county had been adopted, and 
the bonds distributed among them to be sued in the 
respective counties wdiere the defendants resided. The 
experiment having failed, the new office w^as abolished, 
and that of attorney-general w^as restored. The general 
treasurer, as in former times, was charged with the col- 
lection of debts due to the colony, and ordered to sue tlie 
bonds. Seven bridges in different parts of the colony re- 
ceived appropriations for building and repairs. All pub- 
lic bridges, and most of the great highways, as we have 
seen, were built and maintained at the common ex]3ense. 



CHAP, and as tliej continued to be so for a long period, we shall 
^^ot refer to them again. 

1742. A Xewport privateer, having brought in as prisoners 
four Spanish officers, the Assembly ordered that they 
should be entertained, and their passages paid from the 
treasury as soon as they could be sent away. The care 
of insane and imbecile persons, was given to the town 
councils, with power to appoint guardians for their estates. 
Jurors had hitherto been chosen by the people at town 
meetings. The custom of drawing the names from a box 

Kov. was now adopted, and the mode of doing so was regulated 
by law. Uniform days for election of deputies and 
general officers in all the towns, were fixed by statute. 
The first Tuesday of March, afterward changed to the 
third Wednesday in April, and the last Tuesday in August 
were the appointed times. On the former day, the depu- 
ties for the May session were chosen, and proxies for 
general officers were deposited ; on the latter, deputies for 
the October session were elected. Two new ferries were 
established to facilitate access to Newport from Provi- 
dence county ; one from Warwick Xeck to the north end 
of Prudence Island, tlie other from the south end of Pru- 
dence to Lawton's valley. 

The dispute with Connecticut about the monument at 
25. the old south-west corner of Warwick, now the corner of 
West Greenwich and Coventry, was settled by a joint 
commission of the two colonies, who set up a permanent 
and massive stone pillar with suitable inscriptions there- 
upon. Their report was entered upon the records of the 

Irfrch ^^'^^ Assembly.' The Judge of Admiralty having gone 
8. to Enghind, Jolm Gidley, of IN'ewport, was appointed to 
that place till the King's will could be known. North 
Kingstown was divided, and the western portion incor- 
porated as the town of Exeter. A town meeting was 
22 called forthwith, and the requisite officers were elected. 

1 R. I. Col. Rec, V. 59. 



Governor Ward declined a re-election, and dei)nty- chap. 
governor William Greene was cliosen in his place. Josepli 
Whipple was elected deputy -governor. The amount of 1743. 
labor devolving upon tlie conrt of election, had become "^^'^-^ ^' 
so great, that for many years past all other business had 
been deferred till June. Besides the governor and coun- 
cil, attorney, secretary, and treasurer, fifteen State officers 
elected by the people, there were the three field officers of 
each county regiment, five judges of the colony, and five 
of each county court, with the clerks of each court, and 
sheriff's of counties, a list of justices of the peace in every 
town, varying from fifty to a hundred in the whole, the 
three commissioned officers of every regimental company 
in the colony, of which there were now eight in New- 
port, fifteen in Providence, and fourteen in King's county, 
and sometimes six or eight trustees, and a committee of 
two from each town, called the grand committee, to su- 
pervise the issue and loan of bills of credit, making be- 
tween two and three hundred officials, about two-fifths of 
whom were military officers, to be elected by the Assem- 
bly every May ; and this number was increased with the 
admission of each new town. 

The country portion of Xewj^ort, in the north-east 
part of the township, at that time a thickly wooded dis- 
trict, wished to be separated from the town, and had peti- 
tioned during the past year for that purpose. The As- 
sembly now^ took action in the matter, divided the town, 20. 
and at an adjourned session incorporated the new town- Aug. 
ship by the name of Middletown. The first meeting to or- 
ganize under the act was held the following week. 

The jealousy of royal interference with any privileges 
claimed, or heretofore exercised, under the charter or by 
act of Parliament, was illustrated by this Assembly in 
the case of one Leonard Lockman, who produced a com- 
mission as clerk of the naval office in Xewport. A com- 
mittee of inquiry reported that his Majesty was mistaken 
in said grant," for that the naval officer Avas, and always 



CHAP, liad been, in the appointment of the governor, who was 
alone responsible for the conduct of such officer. The 

1743. report was adopted. An adjourned session was held at 

Sept. J^q'ewport for private business only. The alfair of Lock- 
Oct. nian stimulated the legislature to a more definite and tangi- 
2^- ble assertion of their rights, at the regular meeting in 
South Kingstown. The custom fees to be charged by the 
collector and naval officer, were revised, and severe penal- 
ties for any violation of the tariff thus established were 
enacted. A table of fees for the court of Yice Admiralty, 
which had never before been framed, was also adopted, 
with similar penalties for its violation. This law was in 
part induced by the conduct of the court in a recent 
case, condemning the Dutch bark Gertrude, of which act 
complaints were made by the minister of the States Gen- 
eral.' A committee was appointed to inquire into the 
facts, that the whole proceedings might be sent to Eng- 
land. The preambles of both these acts assert " the un- 
doubted right of the General Assembly of this colony " to 
state the fees of all officers and courts within the same. 
The rate of damage upon protested bills of foreign ex- 
change was fixed at ten per cent. 

1743-4 Another issue of new tenor bills to the amount of forty 
thousand pounds was made, to be loaned for ten years at 
four per cent., and at the expiration of that time, to be 
paid, like the former banks, in ten annual instalments. 
One quarter of the interest money was to be divided yearly 
among the towns, the remainder to be for the use of the 
colony. An earnest protest against this measure, similar 
to the one entered three years before, appears upon the 
records.^ All the quarantine laws were repealed, and a 
new one, more complete in its terms, but similar in sub- 
stance to those before noticed, was enacted. The Equity 
Court was abolished, and in its place the Suj^erior Court 

' Letters, 1742-1745, R. I. Sec. of State's Office, No. 44. R. I. Col. 
Rec, V. 80. 

2 R. I. Col. Rec, V. 75. 



was empowered to grant rehearings upon writs of review. CIIAT- 
So many Spanish prisoners were brought into Newport ^^,1^ 
bj the privateers, that an act to regulate their mainte- 1743-4 
nance was passed, allowing to ea(.'h one fifteen shillings a 
week, and providing for their liberation and return as 
soon as possible. 

But the Spanish war was soon to be lost in the greater 1T44. 
complications of European j^olitics. The whole continent 
was in arms, and battles by sea and land, as fruitless as 
they were ceaseless, presented a scene of blood that had 
never been equalled in modern times. The Jacobites 
availed themselves of this dire confusion to press the 
claims of the Pretender. France espoused the cause of Mar. 
Charles Edward, and declared war against England. A 
proclamation of war against France was forthwith issued.' 31. 
A more brilliant period of colonial history was commenc- 
ing, that called for yet greater efforts and led to more de- 
cisive results. 

The Assembly adojDted measures to strengthen the May 
defences of the colony. Military stores were procured, and 
the garrisons at Fort George and Block Island were aug- 
mented. The people of Gloucester petitioned that an 
artillery company might be incorporated in that town. 
It was granted on condition that the members should all 
be from Providence county, and the corps should be 
called the " Artillery company of the county of Provi- 
dence." This was the second chartered company in the 
State, and the origin of the flourishing corps known at 
this day as the Cadet company.^ The news of war 
reached the French colonies before it was received in Xew 
England, and an expedition was sent at once from Cape 

^ The letter of the Duke of Newcastle to Gov. Greene, announcing the 
war, is printed in R. I. Col. Rec, v., p. 80. 

^ At the June session, 1774, this act was amended by a change of name 
to " The Cadet Company of the County of Providence," the corps was offi- 
cered upon a regimental basis, and the position of the company on all field 
days was assigned "on the right wing of the regiment in whose district the 
said company is included." 



CHAP. Breton to break up tlie fishing estabiisliments, and to 
^3^^ capture Fort Canso. Frencli privateers harassed the 
ITM. coast of Xew England, destroying commerce, and ahiiost 
annihilating the fisheries. The Indians were enlisted nn- 
'^^^^ der the French banner, causing great alarm on the fron- 
tiers. It was even feared that our old allies the Six Na- 
tions might join the league. A meeting of connnissioners 
12. Avas held at Albany, to devise measures for the connnon 
5. defence, and Gov. Shirley wrote to Rhode Island to take 
part in the deliberations. At the announcement of war, 
the Assembly was convened by warrant of the governor. 
19. Eighty barrels of powder, and fifteen hundred pounds of 
musket balls were ordered. Fort George was still further 
enlarged. The Tartar, in command of Capt. Daniel 
Fones, with John Stafford as lieutenant, was sent to sea 
with a force of ninety men, to cruise in company w^ith the 
Connecticut armed sloup, between Martha's Yineyard 
and the Jersey coast. Twenty-five hundred pounds in 
bills of credit were issued to meet these expenses, and a tax 
of ten thousand ])Ounds w^as laid upon the colony to pro- 
vide for their redemption. A commissary general was 
appointed, to l)e elected annually, to have charge of all 
munitions of war, and to superintend all military expedi- 
tions. John Gardner was chosen to that ofiice. The old 
tonnage duty upon all A'essels entering the colony, which 
more than fifty years before had been levied to provide 
powder for the common defence, and was soon afterward 
repealed by order from England, was revived, to continue 
through the war. Six])ence a ton was laid upon every 
vessel that should arrive, except coasters, which paid 
threepence ; the proceeds to be applied to the use of Fort 
George. A ])etition to the King was prepared, asking 
for cannon and military stores. John Cranston was com- 
mander of Fort George, and Eobert Carr w^as made lieu- 
tenant. The old watch-tower and beacon at Point Judith, 
and Beaver Tail were renewed. A number of Frencli 
prisoners in ;NeAvport j ail were allowed to reside in Provi- 




dence upon parole, there to support themselves until fur- CIIAP. 
tlier orders, if they so desired. J^J^ 

Upon the approach of war, the Assembly had always 1744. 
revived the act for the relief of tender consciences. Tliis 
delicate regard for the principles of the Quakers, was 
again exhibited by exempting them from bearing arms, 
although requiring them to render all other aid not in- 
consistent with their religious views. An ' .era session 
was held, to determine the value of rateable property, and Sept. 
to a])portion the war-tax among the towns. Leonard 
Lockman, whose crown-commission as clerk in the naval 
office had the year before been disregarded by the Assem- 
bly, had received the appointment of Judge of Admiralty 
in this colony ; and having complained to the Lords of 
Admiralty against the independent legislation of Ehode 
Island upon these subjects, a letter in reply to his repre- 
sentations was prepared, vindicating the conduct of the 
colony. These complaints were considered as a direct at- 
tack upon the charter, and a recent movement in the 
House of Commons against bills of credit, supposed to be 
specially aimed at Rhode Island, still further alarmed the 
colony. The Assembly voted five hundred and fifty Oct. 
pounds sterling, in addition to one hundred and fifty 
recently sent to their agent in England, to be expended 
in repelling these assaults. 

The bounties upon hemp, oil, and other articles, were 
repealed. The lottery system, which eleven years before 
had been denounced by the Assembly, was now legalized 
by this legislature. A scheme of fifteen thousand pounds 
was allowed for building Weybosset bridge in Providence. 
There were five thousand tickets at three pounds each, 
and a tho:isand prizes, amounting to twelve thousand 
pounds. Samuel Chace was appointed clerk to draw the 
lottery. Tlie act was slii^htlv amended at the next ses- 
sion, bringing it to the form here stated. 

An expedition against Cape Breton was designed by "^J.^^ 
Gov» Shirley, and a special messenger was sent to Rhode 29." 
VOL. II. — 46 



CHAP. Island to obtain aid.' A detailed plan for the reduction 
^^^^ of Lonisbnrg, the strongest fortress north of the Oulf of 
1744-5 Mexico, was presented to the Assembly, convened at 
Feb. Providence for the purpose.'' The war sloop Tartar, Capt. 
Daniel Fones, was equipped for a four months' cruise, 
manned with a hundred and thirty men, placed at the dis- 
posal of the commodore for the attack on Louisburg. The 
charges were defrayed by an issue of twenty-five hundred 
pounds in new tenor bills, to be sunk by taxation at the 
end of four years. The governor was again empowered 
to lay an embargo on all outward bound vessels. One 
hundred and fifty men were voted as a land force for the 
expedition, to be divided into three companies, and a 
transport was hired to convey them. John Calioone was 
chosen lieutenant of the Tartar. Besides this force, 
amounting in all to about three hundred men, Godfi-ey 
Malbone, at the request of Gov. Shirley, was commis- 
sioned to raise a regiment of three hundred and fifty men 
in Uliode Island, to be received in the pay of Massachusetts, 
and a bounty of two pounds was paid by this colony to 
every man thus enlisted. The Rhode Island troops were 
to be attached to the Connecticut regiment under Col. 
Burro.^ Tlie command of the expedition was given to 
William Pepperrell, of Maine, afterward knighted for his 
successful exploit. The greatest effort was made by Mas- 
sachusetts. More than thirty-two hundred men, and ten 
armed vessels, two of them privateer ships belonging to 
IN'ewport, were got ready within two months by that 
province. Each of the other New England colonies sent 

^ Shirley's letter to Greene is printed in R. T. Col. Rec, v. 74. 

^ See letters, 1742-1745, in the office of the R. I. Secretary of State, 
Nos. 88, 89, 90. The care bestowed by the Hon. John R. Bartlett in ar- 
ranging these documents, and placing them in a permanent and convenient 
form for reference, is deserving of all commendation. The accomplished 
editor of the R. I. Colonial Records has thus added another claim to the 
gratitude of his native State and of every student of American history. 
Letter No. 108. 




one armed vessel. Kew York, New Jersey, and Pennsyl chap. 
vania, voted small supplies of money, but sent no men. 
Connecticut furnished live hundred troops under Roger 1745. 
Walcott, the second in command of the expedition. New 
Hampshire and Eliode Island sent three hundred each. March 
The former were first at Canso, the rendezvous, arriving 
there two days before the main army from Boston.' One 2. 
half of the Khode Island troops arrived too late to share 
the glory of the enterprise ; but the Tartar, which, with 
the Connecticut sloop of war, was convoying the trans- 
ports of the latter colony, fell in with the French frigate 
Itenommee, of thirty-six guns, and sustained soine dam- 
age in an engagement which, fortunately for the colonies, 
the frigate, bearing despatches to France, did not delay 
to finish.'" While the fleet were detained at Canso by the 
ice, Commodore Warren, with a part of the West India 23 
squadron arrived, and hi the next two days, the Tartar, 
with the Connecticut transports, appeared. As soon as 
the ice permitted, the siege of Louisburg commenced. 30. 

At the spring election, Gideon Wanton was chosen 
governor, and William Robinson deputy-governor. 

During the progress of the siege, earnest calls for re- 
cruits were made by the commanders, who lost many of 
their men by sickness and by the casualties of war. Gov. 
Shirley wrote to Rhode Island for further aid.^ The cap- I8. 
ture of the French ship Vigilant, of sixty-four guns, soon 
occasioned another draft for seamen to man the prize. 20. 
The Assembly ordered forward the three companies voted 28, 
in March, which for some reason had not yet sailed.* The 

^ Belknap's N. Hamp., ii. 212. 

^ Hutchinson, ii. 415. Letter No. 139. 

^ Letter No. 115, R. L Col. Ree., v. 134. 

* The officers of these three companies were — of the 1st, Richard Mum- 
ford, Captain ; Edward Cole, 1st Lieut. ; Samuel Hall, 2d Lieut., or Ensign. 
Of the 2d, Benjamin Potter, Capt. ; Richard Smith, 1st Lieut. ; Richard 
Hoyle, 2d Lieut. Of the 3d, Joshua Champlin, Capt. ; Samuel Eldred, 1st 
Lieut.; Jcoffroy Champlin, 2d Lieut. Some other officers were afterwards 
sent with recruits in July. 


CHAP, transport brig Success was hired to convey tliem, but 
arrived too late. The troops remained to garrison the 
1745. ca^Dtured fortress. When the news of the capture of the 
Juno Vigilant readied Boston, the council ordered three hun- 
5. dred men to be sent as a priz.e crew. Gov. Shirley wrote 
to Gov. Wanton to impress foreign sailors, a large num- 
ber of whom had fled to ^s'ewport to avoid the impress- 
18. ment at Boston.^ The Assembly immediately ordered 
two hundred sailors to be raised, ofiering a large bounty 
to those who would enlist, and giving the sheriff ample 
power to impress men for the service. Within six days 
seventy-four seamen were sent to Boston. Meanwhile all 
the ferries were closed against sailors for eight days, and 
the commander of Fort George was ordered to prevent all 
boats or vessels from leaving the hai'bor of Newport dur- 
ing that time. This course proved as effectual as it was 
20. energetic. Gov. Shirley issued a proclamation, placing 
these levies upon the same footing with other seamen in 
the fleet, and afterward requested Gov. Wanton to pro- 
24. hibit the exjiort of gunpowder, which was done. 

Meanwhile, the Tartar and two other war sloops, under 
7. command of Capt. Fones, were sent to the Bay of Yerte, 
to intercept a large force of French and Indians, some 
twelve hundred strong, who were advancing from the 
siege of Annapolis, to the relief of Louisburg. Fones met 
them at Famme Goose Bay, and after a sharp action, dis- 
persed their fleet, consisting of two sloops, two schooners, 
a shallop, and fifty canoes."'' Two days later, Louisburg 
17. surrendered to the New England forces, after a siege of 
seven weeks. The ships of Commodore Warren had 
served to blockade the port and cut off supplies, but the 
plan and conduct of the siege were entirely in the hands 
of the Americans. Great was the joy in the colonies, and 
the astonishment in Europe at this brilliant achievement, 
by far the most important one of the war. Pepperrell 

' Letters No. 112, 113, R. T. Col. Rec., v. 185, 136. ^ Letters No. 133. 



was created a baronet, tlie only American colonist upon CITAP. 
whom this honor was ever conferred ; Warren was made 
admiral, and Gov. Shirley, for planning the expedition, 1745. 
was made a colonel.' 

The people of Rhode Island went into this war with 
great spirit, altliongh Gov. Shirley complained of the 
delay in sending forward the land forces. The large 
draft for volunteers in Col. Malbone's regiment, counted 
as Massachusetts troops, doubtless impeded the enlist- 
ment of those in the pay of Rhode Island, while the latter 
were incorporated in a Connecticut regiment, and hence 
appear officially as being from that colony. But the sea 
was the favorite element of Rhode Island warfare. The ^ 
Tartar did efficient service throughout the siege, yet the 
battle at Famme Goose Bay is not mentioned in the 
official reports, overshadowed as it was by the great event 
which so soon followed it. From ten to fifteen privateers, 
some of large size and heavy force, were fitted out, and 
sent more than twenty prizes into Newport during the 
year. Besides the transports furnished by the colony, the 
merchants contributed eight thousand pounds, and placed 
a twenty-gun ship at the disposal of the commodore. 
The home government afterwards acknowledged these 
services, by a grant to the colony of six thousand three 
hundred and twenty-two pounds sterling. 

To hold the fortress against a re-capture, and to pro- 
vide for the French prisoners, required great preparations. 
A garrison of four thousand men, besides a fleet of ten 
large, and many smaller ships of war, were to be sustained July 
at Louisburg. Gov. Shirley wrote to Gov. Wanton for ^• 
aid, especially in provisions. A few days later, seven 
hundred prisoners reached Boston, and more than two 12. 
thousand remained on board the fleet to be sent back to 
France. Pepperrell also wrote to Wanton, announcing 
the arrival of the Rhode Island troops, and the necessity 

' Parsons's Life of Sir Wm. Pepperrell, p. 109. 



CHAP, of tlieir remaining, and asking for supplies for the garri- 

■^^ ^' son. Earnest letters to the same effect were sent by the 

1745. Massachusetts council, and by Capt. Fones, whose sloop 
Tartar was too well liked by the commodore to be dis- 

20. charged.' In reply to these solicitations, the Assembly 
sent orders to Fones to draw for supplies, to the land 
^ forces to await orders from England, and to the transport 
Success to return immediately. Commodore Warren 

^13^' '^^'^'^^^^ Goy. Wanton a long letter, thanking the colony 
for its seryices, and urging the importance of retaining 
Louisburg. Gen. Pepperrell also wrote, asking that 
Rhode Island would send twenty-eight more men to sup- 
. ply tlie losses by sickness of the three companies in tlie 
garrison, and also bedding, proyisions, and clotliing for 

24. the troops."^ The Assembly at once enlisted the men, 
purchased eight months' proyisions, with bedding and 
blankets for the three companies, hired a transport to take 
them to Louisburg, and sent three thousand pounds to pay 
the troops. To meet these expenses, fiye thousand pounds 
in bills of credit were issued, and a tax was leyied to re- 
deem them within four years. A force of some four hun- 
dred men was sent from Louisburg, under conyoy of the 

26. Tartar, against St. Johns, on Prince Edwards Island, 
which immediately surrendered. 

The third edition of the colony laws was printed this 
year at Newport, by Anne Franklin, widow of James, 
including the reyised statutes down to the month of June. 
The death of Col. John, eldest son of the late Goy. Cran- 

Oct. ston, and leader of the Rhode Island force at the capture 
of Port Royal, took place at this time. The Assembly 

30. appointed James Angell commissary to the troops at 
Cape Breton, and made Edward Cole captain, in place 
of Mumford, deceased, Joseph Weeden, first lieutenant, 

^ Letters Nos. 135, 138, 157, 158, 159. These and many other letters 
relating to the Louisberg expedition are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, v. 

Letters Nos. 165, 1G7, 108. 



in place of Cole, and Benjamin Allen, second lieutenant, chap. 
They also wrote to Captain Fones to return home with J^^^^ 
the Tartar, The Indians in Kew York having attacked 1745. 
Saratoga, Gov. Clinton wrote to all the colonies for aid. 
Massachusetts declared war, and urged Rhode Island to Dec. 
do the same.^ 

A great calamity occurred at Newport near the close 
of the year. Two large privateers, chiefly owned by Col. 
Malbone, each mounting twenty-two guns, and manned 
by over two hundred men, sailed the day before Christ- 24. 
mas, at the commencement of a violent north-east snow- 
storm, bound for the Spanish main. The gale increased 
to a hurricane, and lasted for two days. The ships were 
never heard from, and both probably went down in the 
storm with all on board. By this fearful disaster, more 
than four liundred lives were lost, and nearly two hundred 
women in ^N^ewport were made widows. The ships were 
just built, and of great value. 

The Six Nations refused to join the English in war l'''45-6 
against the French Indians. It was proposed to have a 27. 
meeting of commissioners from the several colonies, to 
consider what could be done, and Gov. Clinton wrote to 
Ehode Island to lay the matter before the Assembly, but Feb. 
no action upon it is recorded. 10. 

A statement and account of the services and expenses 
of Ehode Island were prepared to send to England, in 
case the claims of the other colonies should be assumed by 
the home government. These were accompanied witli 
original letters from the several commanders, in support of 
the justice of the claim. The mortality at Louisburg 1746. 
during the winter, was frightful. The three Rhode Island 
companies had been consolidated into two, and one of these, 
as appears by a list of deaths sent home by Lieut. Hoyle, 
had already lost its captain and more than one half the 
men.' The condition of the country, an unexpected invasion 

' Letters, 1742-5, Nos. 176, 179. 

" Letters, 1746-50, No. 5, Feb. 2, 1745-6. 



CHAP, from France, and the activity of the colonial French and 

^^^^ Indians, again snggested a meeting of commissioners from 

1746. the several colonies to devise means of security, and Gov. 

^^Y' Clinton once more wrote to Rhode Island to send men to 
the conference. The capture of Cape Breton renewed the 
desire to attempt, for the fourth time, the conquest of 
Canada. The ministry favored the design, but feared 
to intrust it to the colonies, lest another success, like that 
they had already acliieved, should teach them too plainly 
their power. Eight regiments we]*e therefore sent from 

^^9^^^ England under General St. Clair, and orders were issued 
for raising an army in North America.' The New Eng- 
land forces were to unite with the British at Louisburg, 
while those of the other colonies were to invade Canada 
by land — the same plan that had twice before failed. 

May 6. At the spring election, William Greene and Joseph 
Whipple, who, for two successive years previous to the 
last, had been governor and deputy-governor, were re- 
elected ; superseding Wanton and Kobinson, to be in 
turn, again supplanted by them the following year. The 
Tartar, with ninety men and eight officers, was ordered 
to cruise along the coast till October. Fort George was 
garrisoned with thirty men. Stej)hen Hopkins, and Wil- 
liam Ellery were appointed commissioners, to meet with 
those from the other colonies to consult for the defence of 
the country. These were the two patriots who, thirty 
years later, signed in behalf of Rhode Island, the declara- 
tion of independence. 

Letters were sent to Gen. Pepperrell and Admiral 
Warren, requesting the return of the soldiers and sailors 
of Rhode Island, and on the same day a joint letter from 
them was written at Louisburg, announcing the arrival 
of a British garrison, and the consequent discharge of such 
of the colonial forces as might wish to return home.'^ 
29, The arrival of the orders from England to raise an 

' R. I. Col. Rec, V. 162. ' Ibid., 171. 



army for tlie invasion of Canada, caused great activity, chap. 
French prisoners were placed in confinement, and other 
measures taken to prevent a knowledge of the design 1740, 
from reaching the enemy. ^ Gov. Greene at once con- ^^'^ 
vened the Assembly. Three companies of one hundred June 
men each were raised, military stores and provisions for ^• 
six months were provided, and transports hired to convey 
them to Louisburg, and thence to Quebec.^ Large boun- 
ties were offered for pilots of the river St. Lawrence to 
enter the colony's service. The Tartar was withdraw^n 
from her cruise for coast defence, to accompany the ex- 
pedition, and an issue of eleven thousand two hundred and 
fifty pounds in bills of credit was made to meet these ex- 
penses, redeemable in eiglit years by taxes duly appor- 
tioned among tlie towns. The soldiers were to receive a 
new suit of clothes, or an equivalent of twenty-six pounds. 
The ferries w^ere closed against all enlisted men. 

Much correspondence had been held with the gov- 
ernor of Havana on account of a seizure of twenty -two 
Sj)aniards, by two Rhode Island privateers during the 
past winter, who had been sold as slaves in the northern 
colonies. The Defiance, Capt. John Dennis, and the Duke 
of Marlboro', Capt. Robert Morris, were the offending 
vessels, and nineteen of Dennis's crew had been captured, 
and were imprisoned in Havana, till the Spaniards should 
be returned. One of these prisoners, Daniel Denton, was 
sent home from Havana, on j^arole, to jorocure the release 
of the Spaniards. Tlie fact of their freedom being estab- 
lished, which rendered the seizure unlawful, tlie Assem- 
bly ordered the slaves to be sought out and returned by a 12. 
flag of truce, and their purchasers to be indemnified. Den- 

1 Letters, No. 24. 

^ The officers of these companies were as follows. Captains — Joshua 
Sawyer, William Rice, Edward Cole. First Lieutenants — Nathan Carpenter, 
Thomas Streight, Samuel Eldred. Second Lieuts — Philip Wilkinson, jr., 
Robert Sterry, Silas Hehne. Ensigns — Samuel Nichols, Stephen Colegrove, 
Jeoffroy Champlin. Edward Kinnicut, of Providence, was afterwards ap- 
pointed Lieut. Col. in command of the three companies. 



CHAP, ton accompanied tliem to Havana to effect an exchange 
J^^^ for his shipmates. A vessel was procured hy order of the 
1746. Assembly for this purpose. Kecruiting for service in 
'^^^^^ Canada continued. Meanwhile measures were in progress 
which were to render abortive this long cherished plan, 
and to spread terror throughout the colonies. That an 
attempt would be made to recover Louisburg had been 
anticipated, but the tremendous preparations which con- 
templated, not merely a restoration of lost possessions, but 
the conquest of all British North America, were well 
calculated to alarm the exhausted colonists. A fleet of 
sixty-six sail, including twenty-five ships of war, carrying 
nearly twelve hundred guns, and fifteen thousand men, 
22. with a land army eight thousand strong, sailed from 
Rochelle under the Duke d'Anville. So quietly had this 
formidable armament been prepared, that nothing was 
known of it by the colonists for nearly three months, so 
that their military plans remained as yet unchanged.' 
Admiral Warren came from Louisburg to Boston, to 
29. hasten the movement against Canada. He wrote to Gov. 
Greene to obtain all the sailors possible, esj^ecially pilots, 
and suggested the capture of Crown Point." At Boston 
J J an embargo was laid upon all vessels, in order to secure 
sailors for the fleet, and Rhode Island was urged to do 
8. the same. The Assembly hired three transports for 
Canada, directed that the companies should be filled by 
impressment, except from Kings county, unless the com- 
plement was made up before orders were received to em- 
bark, and quartered the troops on Goat Island to await 
these orders from the admiral. 

The depreciation of the currency had become so great, 
19^* that the property qualification for freemen, hitherto two 
hundred pounds, was doubled, and a stringent law was 
passed against fraudulent voting and bribery at elections. 

^ A list of the French fleet is contaiued in Letters, 1746-50. Nos. 
21. 39. 

2 R. I. Col. Rec., V. 183 



An oath was prepared to be administered to every voter, chap. 
and another to be taken by every officer, not to receive or 
offer bribes in any manner. A single vote cast for any 1746. 
officer under such inducements should invalidate his elec- 
tion, and in all trials under the act, the evidence of the 
person offering a bribe might be taken against the accused. 
The law was to be read in town meeting, at each semi- 
annual election for live years, and the name of any viola- 
tor of it was to be struck from the roll of freemen. 

The troops w^ere sent on board the transports, which 
were anchored close under Goat Island, daily expecting 
the order to sail ; but the vacillating ministry had already 
changed their plans. The fleet destined for America was 
withheld, and its non-arrival caused the invasion of 
Canada to be abandoned. Attention was now directed 
to the capture of Crown Point, which, in the hands of the 
French wavS a constant annoyance, and if taken, would 
facilitate the operations against Canada another year. 
These views were expressed by Shirley and Warren to Aug. 
Gov. Greene, desiring that the Rhode Island troops might 
be sent to Albany.* 

But the public mind was soon to be diverted from Sept. 
schemes of conquest to the more imminent necessity of 
defence. Rumors of the great armada of France were 
brought to Louisburg by a captured merchantman,'' and 
soon afterwards the fleet w^as seen off Nova Scotia. Gov- 16. 
ernor Shirley sent orders to Rhode Island to hold the 22. 
troops in readiness to march, but whither, was yet uncer- 
tain. The greatest alarm pervaded the colonies. The 
Assembly was convened by warrant from the governor. 29. 
Ammunition for Fort George was procured, and new 
batteries were ordered to be built adjoining it, upon 
Goat Island. This act was protested against by a few 
members, on the ground that the works were already 
strong enough to resist privateers, and no new ones would 

Letters, No. 43. 

' Letters, Nos. 39, 52, 57. 



CHAP, suffice for defence ao^ainst a hostile fleet. ^ It was coniee- 
J^^^^ tured that Nova Scotia was the destined point of attack. 
1746. Troops were hurried ofl' to the defence of Annapolis Roy- 
al. Shirley and Warren wrote for the Rhode Island com- 
21. panics to he sent thither. The Assembly was again con- 
vened. The transports were ordered to sail under convoy 
of the Tartar, as soon as it could be ascertained what di- 
rection they should take, and all further matters connect- 
ed with their departure were intrusted to the council of 
23. war. Shirley advised that they touch at Passamaquoddy, 
for orders from Gov. Mascarene of Annapolis, for the 
movements of the French were quite inexplicable.' It was 
not yet known that pestilence and storm had so weakened 
and shattered the great armada, causing the death of 
d'Anville, and the suicide of his successor, that the expe- 
dition was abandoned, and the sliips had returned singly 
to France. 

■^Qy^ Soon after the Rhode Island troops sailed, great disas- 
2. ters overtook them, and a company of Massachusetts 
trooj^s, on their voyage to Annapolis. Some of the trans- 
ports were cast away at Mt. Desert, and more than one 
half of their men perished by drowning and exposure. A 
severe sickness wasted the others. Some were left at 
Martha's Vineyard, others found their way to Boston, and 
were sent home by Gov. Shirley.^ The weather was 
severe, and tlie sufferings of the soldiers were extreme, so 
that no further attempt to reach Annapolis was made by 
this colony during the winter ; but the companies were 
retained in service, a part on furlough and others at Fort 

Oct. The Assembly had held repeated extra sessions during 
29. the year, at which the engrossing toj)ics of the war occu- 

^ Fort George was armed with 37 heavy cannon, 25 24-pounders and 
12 18's. 

^ Letters, Nos. 61, 62. 
' Letters, Nos. 1, 4. 

Most of these letters are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, v. 183-7, 191-3, 



pied their attention. The regular autumn session was CIIAP. 
devoted to private business, and a special one was called 
soon after, upon reception of the royal decree settling the 1740. 
eastern boundary, and requiring the lines to be forthwith "^j^" 
run in accordance therewitli ; for which purpose a com- 
mittee was appointed. 

They proceeded, in the absence of commissioners from ^* 
Massachusetts, to run the lines, ex parte, and reported at j^^'*^ 
an adjourned session.^ A special session was called to 6. 
organize this large accession of territory, which was finally 27. 
made a part of Rhode Island. The five towns of Bristol, 
Tiverton, Little Compton, Warren and Cumberland were 
incorporated, the laws of the colony extended over them, 
and a justice appointed for each town. Land titles were 
confirmed, and the Massachusetts statute of distributions 
upon estates yet unsettled was legalized. The elections Feb. 
necessary to perfect the organization of the towns were 
soon after held, and then an extra session of the Assem- 
bly was called, at which the ten new deputies were pre- 17. 
sent, to arrange the county jurisdiction. The two south- 
ern towns were annexed to Newport county, Cumberland 
to Providence, and the intervening district was separately 
organized as Bristol county with Bristol as the shire town. 
This act made a revision of the judicial and military sys- 
tems of the colony necessary, which occupied the session. 
The Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and 
General Jail Delivery, was established, consisting of a 
chief justice, and four associate justices, to be annually 
chosen by the General Assembly. Henceforth the assist- 
ants, or upper house of Assembly, ceased to exercise high 
judicial powers, although they continued to be a court of 
probate until 1802. Tlie Judiciary now assumed its 
proper ranlv as a co-ordinate branch of the government. 
The Superior Court was to sit twice a year in each county. 
An Inferior Court of Common Pleas, and a Justices' 

' R. I. Col. Rec, V. 199. 



CHAP. Court, such as existed in each of the other counties, were 
established in Bristol county. In Tiverton, two companies 

1746-7 of militia, and one in each of the other new towns, were 

organized. The Warren and Cumberland soldiers were 

attached to the Providence regiment, and those of the 

other three towns to ^^ewport. 

Thus was completed the annexation of territory, 

originally granted to Rhode Island by the charter of 

Charles II., but which had been held in abeyance, under 

the jurisdiction of Plymouth and Massachusetts, ever 

since the decision of the royal commissioners. The colony 

was now complete in all its parts, and being freed from 

the incessant conflict for existence, which for a century 

had distracted its councils, and weakened its power, was 

better prepared for those trying scenes in which it was 

ere long to bear a leading part. 

The earlier history of these five new towns, is identified 

with that of Plymouth and Massachusetts. Cumberland 

formed a small section on the western border of tlie town 

of Attleboro', bounded on the Blaekstone Piver. The 

1694. country between Taunton and Pehoboth, called the North 

Iq' Purchase, and previously attached to Pehoboth, was in- 
corporated under the name of Attleboro', two years after 
the union of Plymouth with Massachusetts was completed. 
The portion now assigned to Phode Island, was known as 
the Attleboro' Gore, and was described as embracing 
about twenty thousand acres of land. Its inhabitants 
were imbued with the sentiments of their nearer neighbors 
of Phode Island, rather than with those of Massachusetts. 
That they desired a union with this colony, is evident 
from their petitions to the General Assembly before re- 
ferred to, and by their conduct towards the various boun- 
dary commissions in whose decisions they were so deeply 

Warren, including the present town of Barrington, 
formed a part of Swanzea, till the annexation. Swanzea 
was settled by men whose views on the question of reli- 



gions freedom were too liberal even for the tolerant spirit cnAP. 
of the Pilgrims. Rev. John Miles, a Baptist minister 
from AY ales, with his friends had settled in Plymouth, 1667. 
where their dissent from the prevailing creed, soon ])hieed 
them under the ban of the authorities. Tliej were re- July 2. 
quired to remove from the immediate neighborhood, but 
were permitted to settle within the limits claimed by 
Plymouth. Soon afterward the court granted to Capt. 
Thomas Willet, Mr. Miles and others, all the land west of 
Taunton and Pehoboth as far as the bay, which included 
also the present towns of Swanzea and Somerset. The act 
of incorporation secured freedom of conscience to the set- 
tlers, who were thus left in the unmolested enjoyment of 
their religion. Capt. AVillet, who afterward became the 
first English mayor of ^s^ew York, was not himself a Bap- 
tist, but sympathized with Miles on the point of religious 
freedom. The place was named Swanzea from the Welch 
town whence Miles and most of his church had cmigi'ated. 

The assumption of jurisdiction by Plymouth over this 
territory, was an act of usurpation. The original grant 

of the council of Plvmouth to John Pierce and his asso- t 


ciates, conveyed title to the soil, but did not and could 1. 
not invest them with jurisdiction over it. It was a patent, 
not a charter. Four years before the incorporation of 
Swanzea, the charter of Rhode Island had expressly con- 1^^^* 
veyed jurisdiction over the country extending for three 
miles east of Karraganset Bay. This charter did not 
affect the title, but its conveyance of the jurisdiction was 
absolute. The ownership remained the same, but the 
political supremacy was conceded to Rhode Island, and 
Avlien the great charter uniting Plymouth and Massachu- 1691. 
setts under one royal governor, was issued twenty-eight 
years later, it defined the western boundary of the late 
Plymouth colony, to be at tlie eastern bound of Rhode, 
Island, thus leaving the charter of Charles II. as the au- 
thority that was to define where Massachusetts should 
terminate. Tlie leo^al claim of Rhode Island to this ter- 




CHAP, ritory, was unquestionable, and we can only wonder tliat 

^^^^ for more than eiglity years it was held in abeyance. 

1675. AVe have already seen how severe were the sufferings 
of the people of Swanzea during Philip's war. The cen- 
tre of })opulation in this extensive township changed soon 
after tlie war, so that it became necessary to erect a new 

jQgQ meeting-house near Kelly's bridge, which was done partly 
by aid from the town, and a parsonage was built for Mr. 
Miles, to indemnity him for money advanced towards the 
expenses of the war.' In the course of twenty years, the 
growth of the town required another change in the loca- 

1700. tiun of the churcli, which was accordingly removed to 
Xortli Swanzea. This left the people in what is now 
Barrington witliout suitable accommodations. A congre- 
gational church was tlierefore erected in that part of the 
town, as many of the inhabitants were of that denondna- 

So lung as the more liberal colony of Plymouth held 
jurisdiction over this territory, the rights of conscience, 
agreeably to the terms of the act of incorj3oration, were 
strictly maintained. The majority of the people were 
Baptists, but there were many Congregation alists also, 
and all coincided in the essential doctrine established by 
their neighbors in Ehode Island. But the Massachusetts 
charter was destined to institute a new order of things. 
Upon the arrival of Sir William Phipps, the policy of Mas- 
sachusetts was extended over the Plymouth territory. It 
soon interfered Avith the most cherished idea of the peop.e 
of Swanzea. A warrant from the court of quarter ses- 
Aug ^i^i^^ ^^""^^ 1'^^^^ town meeting, " requiring the town to 
28. choose a minister according to law." The church replied 
" that they had a minister that they apprehended was ac- 
cording to law, viz., Elder Samuel Luther, and desired 
the vote of the town to see their assent and approbation."^ 

' Tustitfs Historical Discourse, p. 98. 

' T'pou the death of Mr. Miles, in 1683, the church remained for two 
years without a pastor, when Rev. Samuel Luther was ordained and settled 




The purpose of this warrant coulJ not be mistaken. It CHAP, 
caused much debate in the town and anxiety in the minds 
of the people. At an adjourned meetin^^, the town voted Ifvj:]. 
upon the question, and " chose elder Samuel Luther min- ^j^jj* 
ister in the town of Swanzea." ' But the Puritan system 
required also the election of tithing men. This collection 1694. 
of tithes for the support of the church was another in- 
fringement upon the chartered rights of the people. In 
this case, too, they conformed to the letter of the law by 
choosing four men who were Baptists, representing the '^^^^ 
feeling of the town upon this question, and would not 
enforce the odious statute. This mode of evading the law 
in maintenance of their vested rights, was continued for 
several years. Nor w^ere these officers always chosen at 
the annual election ; their numbers varied from four down 
to one ; the same men were never re-chosen ; the office 
was merely nominal ; the voluntary system was sustained 
by the sturdy townsmen, and no tithes were ever collect- 
ed. At length some of the inhabitants in the west part 
of the town, where a Congregational churcli had already 1700. 
been erected, petitioned the general court to have the 1711. 
town divided. The petition was referred to a meeting of July 7. 
the town, and was rejected. Tlie selectmen were appoint- 
ed to answer the ^^etition, and to defend the rights uf the 
town, with power to levy a tax for their expenses in the 
affair.^ The next year the same petitioners again appear- 1T12. 
ed before the general court, praying for a division of the May 
town, or that one hundred pounds should be collected 
therein for the support of the ministry. This referred to 
the minister of the established church that had been or- 

over them in 1685, and continued there till his dcatli in 1710. Tustin's 
Historical Discourse, p. 103. 

^ Swanzea Records, p. 93. The design of Massachusetts to have a cler- 
gyman of the established Puritan church settled over the Baptists in Swan- 
zea, was frustrated by this act of the people, who by their votes conformed 
to the letter of the law, while they violated its spirit and intent. 

^ Swanzea Records, p. 1G2= 
VOL. II. — 47 



CHAP, ganized twelve years before. The town again voted not 
to comply with the conditions of the petition, but " that 

1712. all the inhabitants of this town shall enjoy their conscience 
liberty agreeably to the foundation settlement of said 
town, and are obliged to n23hold and maintain the w^or- 
ship of God where they respectively belong or assemble, 
and not obliged to do it elsewhere." Five men were 
chosen to maintain the rights of the town to freedom of 
conscience, and to petition her Majesty's council in case 
that justice should be denied them by the court, and five 

1717. hundred pounds were voted for this purpose.' Five years 
later the subject was revived by another petition from the 
same source, to raise one hundred and twenty pounds to 
support a minister, or to divide the town. The record 
states, that " after a considerable fair and loving confer- 
ence with said petitioners upon the premises, it was agreed, 
voted, and concluded, that all the inhabitants of the town 
of Swanzea should enjoy their conscience liberty accord- 
ing to said foundation settlement of said town," and then 
proceeded in the same terms as the previous vote.^ But 
this arrangement did not satisfy the petitioners. They 
renewed their efforts with the general court, for a division 
of the town, which, notwithstanding the opposition of the 

1718. others, was granted the next year, and the territory west 
of TVarren River was incorporated under the name of 
Barrington. It remained a distinct tow^n until the annex- 
ation to Rhode Island, when it became a part of Warren. 
The sympathy of the people of Swanzea with those of 
Ithode Island, was still further shown as the time ap- 
proached when the long controversy for jurisdiction was 

1741. to be settled. At a town meeting a vote was passed, ex- 
Feb. pressing their " unanimous wish to come under the Rhode 
Island government, as we aj^prehend w^e do belong there." ' 

^ Swanzea Records, p. 166. Ibid., p. 181. 

^ A more minute account of the local history of Warren and Barrington, 
prior to the annexation, than the limits of this work will permit, may be 
found in the Historical Discourse of Rev. J. P. Tustin, and in the History of 



Bristol was an Indian township long before it was CITAP. 
settled by the whites. Among the old Indian grants con- ^^^^^^ 
veying lands to the English, is one relating to Warren, l()53. 
wherein Massasoit and his son agree to remove from the ^^2^^^ 
within granted premises in favor of the Plymouth ])ur- 
cliasers. Soon after the death of Massasoit and his elder 
son, the remnant of the Wampanoags under Philip, 
gathered about Mount Hope. A fence was built across 
the neck from Warren to Kickemuet rivers, to mark the 
line between the Indians and the English, at the present 
boundary between Warren and Bristol. At the close of 
Philip's wai*, these Indian lands were claimed by Plym- ^680 
outh by right of conquest, and after a struggle w^ith other Jan. 
claimants, were confirmed to that colony by royal decree. 
They were soon after conveyed by deed, for eleven liun- g^^^ 
dred pounds,^ to four Boston merchants, one of whom was 14. 
Natlianiel Byfield, and the settlement was immediately 
commenced. By the terms of the deed, the town was to 
be exempt from taxation by the colony for seven years. 
Col. Benjamin Church .was one of the first settlers, and 
became their first representative at the general court. 
The following year the name of Bristol was given to the g^^^j' 
town by the pro])rietors, and at the next" session of the 1. 
court they were incorporated. Tlie next year efticient 
provision was made for education. The people, who were ib82. 
Congregationalists, erected a spacious church edifice on 1684. 

Warren by Gen. G. M. Fessenden. The two works were published in one 
volume, Providence, 1845. Mr. Fessenden there shows very clearly the lo- 
cation of Sowams, the residence of Massasoit, to be that of the present town 
of Warren. The uncertainties of Indian geography have extended the name 
to the adjacent region, but the spot of the Sachem's residence, the proper 
village of Sowams, is well estabhshed in the work referred to. An inge- 
nious and well-sustained theory of Mr. Fessenden's in regard to Roger "Wil- 
liams, that he came by water with his companions, from Salem to Seekonk, 
a copy of which, in MS., is in the archives of the R. I. Hist. Soc., has never 
been published. It ought to be printed, for it reconciles many points in 
regard to the fourteen weeks of Williams's wanderings, that cannot other- 
wise be explained. 
^ About $3,666. 



CHAP, the spot where tlie court-house now stands, but ♦:he 
society was not organized till three years later, when Mr. 
1687. Woodb ridge, their first minister, was succeeded by Mr. 
^' Lee. The town increased rapidly in wealth and popula- 
tion, and soon became the most flourishing in the colony. 
1685. Upon the division of the colony into three counties, Bris- 
tol was made the shire town of the county that received 
its name. The annals of Bristol present no striking points 
1693. of history prior to the annexation. The custom of open- 
Mar, {y^g closing the town meetings with prayer, which 
was established by vote, and enforced by a fine of one 
shilling upon whoever should leave before the meeting 
was thus dismissed, attests the attachment of the people 
to their Puritan ideas, wherein they diftered from most 
of their neighbors. The established church continued to 
be the only one in the town, until the Episcopal society, 
1721. already referred to, was gathered. Appropriations for 
the support of the ministry in both churches were made 
1744 ^^^^ town ; but shortly before the annexation, the town 
Oct. 7. voted to ajjply to the general court for a law enabling 
each society to tax its own congregation for the support 
of their respective ministers.. This was an approach to 
Rhode Island customs, that showed a ^preparation in the 
popular mind, for the change that was soon to occur in 
their political relations.^ 

The Indian name of Tiverton was Pocasset. It was 
1680 oi*ig"^ally purchased from the Sachems by the Plymouth 
Mar. colonists, and by them was sold for eleven hundred pounds 
^' to Edward Gray and seven others. Col. Church, then 
living at Punkateest at the south end of the town, with 
Christopher and Job Almy of Portsmouth, were among 
the purchasers. The settlers were mostly of Pilgrim ex- 
traction, with a strong infusion of the Rhode Island ele- 
ment. They were but few in number, and were closely 

' The Annals of Bristol, from its foundation to A. D. 1800, were pub- 
lished, from the town records, in the Bristol Phenix, 1845, in a series of 
articles that deserve to be placed in a more permanent form. 



identified with the older and hirger town of Freetown, CIIAP. 
wliich inchided Fall River, and upon which Pocasset was 
bounded on the north. It was not till two years after the 
union of Plymouth with Massachusetts, that the tow^n 
w^as incorporated and received the name of Tiverton. 1694. 
There w^as no settled minister either there or at Freetown, 
and presentments against the towns were frequently made 
to the court for this cause, hut with little effect. The 
Society for Propagating the Gospel, sent out a missionary 
to tlie three towns of Freetown, Tiverton, and Little 1*^12. 
Compton, but his efforts to gather an Episcopal church, 
were unsuccessful. Tiie neglect of religious and educational 
duties in Freetown and Tiverton, formed quite a contrast 
in tliese respects to most of their neighbors. It was not 
till five months prior to the annexation, that the first Con- 1746. 
gregational church was organized in the south part of '^q^' 
Tiverton. It was composed of eleven members from 
the church of Little Compton, who settled the Rev. 
Othniel Campbell as their pastor.' 

The original purchasers of Little Compton, were resi- 
dents of Duxbury and Marshfield. A large tract of land 
on what was then called Taunton River, embracing a por- 
tion of Seaconnet, was sold by the Sachems to William 1659. 
Paybody, Josiah Winslow, and others.^ A son of Pay- 
body settled on a part of this tract, and afterw^ard sold 
another portion of it to Benjamin Church, who became 
the first English settler in what is now Little Compton, 
having moved there, as is said, by the advice of Samuel 
Gorton. Scarcely had he commenced his plantation, 16T4. 
w^hen Philip's war broke out, and obliged him to abandon 
the attempt. Shortly after the close of the war, the settle- 
ment of the place was renewed. It increased so rapidly 1682. 
that in a few years, upon petition of Joseph Church and '^g"® 

^ The reader is referred to the Historical Sketch of Fall River by Rev. 
Grin Fowler, Fall River, 1841, for a succinct account of the local history. of 

2 2 Mass. Hist. Col., x. 66. 



CHAP, other inhabitants, it was incorporated l)j the court of 
J^^^ Kew Plymouth, and called Little Conipton. The author- 
1683. ity of the magistrates of the town was extended over 
Jiilv Punkateest and Pocasset the next year. The same disre- 
1685. gard to the law requiring the support of a minister, that 
June ^^i^^^^^ a later period in Tiverton, was displayed by the 
2. people of Little Compton. They were required to raise 
'^^■^y fifteen pounds for this object. The town refused to do so, 
and notified the court that they would consider the sub- 
ject, and ansAver at the next court, whereupon a warrant 
Oct, was issued as^ainst them for nei>'lect and contempt. The 
1685-6 ^^^^'^^ appointed two agents to appear in their behalf. 
Feb. These agents offered an excuse under the hand of the 
town clerk, but took excejDtion to the process as illegal. 
The court maintained its own authority, and fined the 
"^2^^' town twenty pounds for their neglect of its orders and 

contempt of its dignity. 
1600. Although the population of Bristol was larger, as is 
"^g"® shown by the military levy in the colony for the expedi- 
tion against Canada, in which the former is required to 
i"urnish six and the latter four of the fifty-one men to be 
raised from the county, yet the list of rateable estates, 
Nov. made the same year as the basis of a war tax, shows the 
^- wealth of Little Compton to be nearly double that of 
Bristol.' The people refused to be taxed for the su])port 
of a minister, but they were not without an organized 
church of the established order, from which, as we have 
seen, the church in Tiverton was subsequently formed. 

Tlie increase of population by the addition of these 
five towns to Bliode Island, was about forty-eight hun- 
dred,"^ nearly all of whom seem to have been not only 
willing, but desirous to come under a jurisdiction where 
the power of the magistrate over men's consciences was 

* Little Compton was rated at £2,000, and Bristol at £1,049. Plyni. Col. 
Rec., vi. 252. 

^ Their aggregate population was 4,767 — of whom 4,196 were whites, 
343 blacks, and 228 Indians. 



denied, and where the union of church and State, so ob- chap. 
noxious to the larger portion of them, was unknown. 
They readily acquiesced in what was to them a new, l)ut 1740-7 
congenial method of government ; and no portion of the 
State was ever more loyal to its institutions, or more 
spirited in their support, than were these people who had 
so long felt the injustice of the Puritan system. 



1Y47— 1762. 


^TVU ^y^th France and Spain was drawing to a 

v^-^-^ close. A powerful French fleet renewed tlie attempt 
l'''^'^- npon Britisli ]S"ortli America, but were defeated by Lord 
Anson and Admiral Warren early in tlie year. Both 
parties were wearied of a contest in which neither was 
likely to gain mnch advantage, so that the coming year is 
mainly devoid of stirring incidenc. The Rhode Island 
privateers were so successful against the enemy in the 
AYest Indies, that the French at Martinique sent out a 
vessel of fourteen guns and a hundred and forty men, 
especially to capture Capt. Dennis, who was the most 
famous for his daring exploits. The fortunes of war M^ere 
illustrated in tliis attempt. After an action of four hours, 
in which Dennis was slightly wounded, the Frenchman 
struck his flag, and was taken, as a prize, to the English 
island of St. Kitts. 
May 6. Gideon Wanton and William Robinson were again 
elected governor and deputy-governor, in place of Greene 
and Whipple. Tlie Tartar was sent out on a summer 
cruise, Avith the Connecticut war sloop, to guard the coast. 
The garrison of Fort George was renewed, with AValter 
Chaloner as captain, and Robert Carr as lieutenant. To 
retain the friendship of the Six Nations, all the colonies 


were "requested to contribute to their supplies. Gov. chap. 
Shirley presented the subject to Eliode Island/ and again 
urged its importance in a pressing letter. But this colony 1747. 
being in no condition to contribute funds, the Assembly '^[j"® 
declined to do so. A meeting of commissioners from all 
the colonies was proposed, to be held at New York in 29. 
September, to consult in regard to the French and In- 
dians, and particularly to secure the fidelity of the Six 
Nations.'' An exchange of prisoners having been ar- July 
ranged between Beauharnois, governor of CaiTada, and 
Gov. Shirley, a flag of truce arrived at Boston, with one Aug. 
hundred and seventy-one prisoners, six of whom belonged 
to Ehode Island. The inactivity of the contending 
powers foreshadowed the peace that was concluded the 
following year. The Assembly ordered an account of the 18. 
expenses incurred for the expedition against Canada, to 
be prepared for the home government. 

The Redwood library, at Newport, having been en- 
dowed by Abraham Redwood with "five hundred pounds 
sterling for the purchase of books, was incorporated at 
this session." It had grown out of the literary society 
formed by Bishop Bei-keley seventeen years before. 
Charlestown was divided into two towns. That part 
lying north of Pawcatuck River, was incorporated under 
the name of Richmond, and an election of deputies and 
local officers for the new town was held. There were at 28. 
this time nineteen ferries within the colony, thirteen of 
which connected with different parts of the ishmd of 
Rhode Island.' Tlie whole were regulated by a special 31. 
statute, revising all the old laws upon this subject. The 
proceedings of every session of the Assembly had hither- 
to been copied by the Seci'etary, and sent to every town 
in the colony. The increased number of towns caused 
great delay, as well as much useless labor, in carrying out 

^ R. I. Col. Rec, V. 216. ^ Ibid., 219. 

^ Mr. Redwood died at Newport, March 8, 1788, in the 80th year of 
his age. 



CHAP, this system. It was therefore enacted by the Assembly, 
^^l^ that hereafter the public laws and orders passed at each 
1747. session, should be printed and distributed, as heretofore, 
^g^' among the towns. 

Orders were received from England to abandon the 
invasion of Canada, and discharge all the colonial forces. 
31. Gov. Shirley's proclamation was issued accordingly, dis- 
banding the troops. Parliament resolved to reimburse 
the colonies for their heavy expenditures during the war. 
Dec. For this purpose eight hundred thousand pounds were 
^- appropriated.^ Mr. Hutchinson, afterwards governor of 
the province of Massachusetts, presented a plan for sink- 
ing the paper money of the colonies, and substituting a 
1747-8 specie currency with the funds thus provided. Massachu- 
Feb. setts wisely adopted the plan after much discussion, but 
Rhode Island and Connecticut, to whom it was earnestly 
29. recommended by Shirley,^ refused to embrace it. The 
effect of this refusal was felt almost immediately in the 
loss of their trade, and in a severe commercial revulsion 
from which Massachusetts was exempt. Rhode Island 
had heretofore imported largely from the West Indies for 
that province. This trade at once ceased, and great dis- 
tress followed. At the winter session the Assembly 
28. granted a second lottery. This was for paving the streets 
of IS^ewport. Tlie system having thus become legalized, 
continued till within a very recent period. A new ferry 
between South Kingstown and Jamestown was established, 
to accommodate the increasing travel. A tax of five 
thousand pounds was laid upon the colony, to redeem a 
portion of the bills of credit before issued, to meet the ex- 
penses of the war. The towns were impowered to make 

' Letter 73. The expenses of R. I. for the campaign 1746-7, keeping 
300 men in the service, were £7,507-4, which were paid. Her whole ex- 
penses for the expedition against Canada were £12,338, and the balance was 
paid in 1750 from the above appropriation. Trumbull Papers, vol. i., 
p. 30. 

^ Letter 66. 



their own local regulations, and to levy taxes for munici- CHAP- 
pal purposes. 

Preliminaries of a treaty being agreed upon at Aix, a 1748. 
cessation of hostilities ensued. An armistice of four ^\^q'^ 
months was promulgated. Notice of it was sent to the 
colonies, and the war was in fact ended. At the spring 
election, Wanton^ gave place to William Greene as gov- May 4. 
ernor, who continued in that office for seven successive 
years. A\^illiam Ellery was chosen deputy governor. 
The war sloop Tartar, Capt. James Holmes, was sent to 
sea on her last cruise to guard the coast. The day after 
he sailed. Holmes captured a schooner off Point Judith, 22. 
claiming to be a flag of truce, but fully loaded with sugar, 
from Ilispaniola bound to a northern colony. The prize 
was sent into Newport, under charge of Lieut. Daniel 
Yaughan. A committee of inquiry was appointed by 
the next Assembly, upon the conduct of these officers in ji^^ie 
capturing what claimed to be a flag of truce; but later 13. 
proceedings of the Admiralty would seem to justify the 
act. The expenses of the colony for the Canada expedi- 
tion, amounted to ten thousand one hundred and forty- 
four pounds sterling. Tlie account had been sent to Par- 
tridge the agent, who petitioned that it might be allowed. 8. 
This was granted, and the bills drawn for the amount were 
accepted at the Treasury, long before the Cape Breton 
money was paid."'' Shirley opposed the Phode Island ac- 

' Gov. Gideon Wanton died Sept. 12, 1767, in his 74th year. He was 
for 12 years, from 1732 to 1744, General Treasurer, and in 1745 and 1747 
was Governor of the Colony. 

^ The exact amounts allowed to Rhode Island for these two expeditions 
were £6,322 12s. lOd. for Cape Breton, and £10,144 9s. 6d. for Canada, being 
the exact amount of the accounts rendered, reduced to sterling money at 
tlie then current rate of exchange, which was 570 per cent. The sums first 
allowed to all the colonies were afterwards reduced. R. I. received but 
£7,507 4s. 4d for the Canada expedition. The surplus of £2,637 5.s. 2d. al- 
ready paid, was deducted from the allowance due on the Cape Breton ex- 
pedition, which was not adjusted till 1750. Partridge labored in vain to 
prevent this injustice. See his letter of March 17th, 1749-50, and August 
r>th, 1750, in Letters 1745-1750, R. I. Record Office. 



CHAP, count, but liis objections were met by Partridge, and the 
^^^^ amount was allowed and paid at the maturity of the bills. 
1748. The Ca^^e Breton money was not remitted till long after- 

June The Assembly revised the laws relating to legal resi- 
dence in the towns, and to the removal of paupers. New 
comers were required to give a month's notice of intention 
to become residents, after which, if they remained one year 
without being warned to leave, they were admitted as 
lawful inhabitants of tlie town. Tlie purchase of a freehold 
estate, of the value of thirty pounds sterling, also gave a 
legal residence. Apprentices having served their time in 
any town, miglit elect their residence tliere, or return to 
the place of their birth. Paupers not having acquired a 
legal settlement, miglit be removed by the councils on 
complaint of the overseer of the poor, to the place of their 
last legal residence, or to that of their birth. The manner 
in which this should be done, and the remedies to prevent 
injustice in such cases, were fully prescribed in the statute. 

Complaints were made to the Lords of Admiralty, 
that illicit trade had been carried on at Pliode Island, 
during the past year, under cover of flags of truce, to the 
West Indies, in vessels hired to convey prisoners to the 
enemies' ports, and in contravention to the laws of war, 
but few prisoners, in fact, being conveyed in any of these 
July 8 ^^essels. The Admiralty addressed a letter to Gov. Greene, 
to prevent such violations of law in future.' 

News of the armistice having been received, the gar- 
22^' rison at Fort George was disbanded, and the Tartar dis- 
mantled and laid up. All the ferries had hitherto been 
private property, but the two on the west side of James- 
town were now ordered to be purchased by the colony.^ 
The act against swearing was revised. The penalty was 
a fine of five shillings, or confinement for three hours in 

* R. I. Col. Rec, V. 258. 

^ The colony kept them but a short time. In August, 1750, tb^y were 
ordered to be sold at public auction. 



the stocks. To insure a full attendance, the Assembly CHAP, 
imposed a fine of two pounds for the first day's absence of "^^^JJl^ 
any member, without good cause, and one pound for each 1748. 
subsecpient day. 

A memorial from merchants in Massachusetts was Sept. 
presented to the Lords of the Treasury, against bills of 24. 
credit in New England, ashing that the war indemnity 
should not be paid to the colonies till they adopted some 
plan for their redemption. The treaty of peace was defi- 
nitely signed at Aix-la-Chapelle. All conquests were Oct. T. 
mutually restored, so that Cape Breton, that glory of 
New England prowess, reverted to the French. This 
w^as a sore disappointment to the colonists, but not more 
disgraceful to the British ministry than the fact that the 
Kight of Search, the prime cause of the- war, was not even 
mentioned in the treaty. The Spanish American trade 
remained as before, in the hands of its rightful owners. 

Tlie old sloop of war Tartar w^as ordered to be sold at 26. 
auction, with all her stores and equipments. This vessel 
had done efiicient service throughout the war, and had 
fought in some severe engagements, of which mention has 
already been made.' In order to reply to inquiries from 
the Board of Trade, a census of the colony was taken this 
autunm. The population was found to be thirty-four 
thousand one hundred and twenty-eight, of whom twenty- 
nine thousand seven hundred and fifty were whites, and 
the remainder blacks and Indians. Newport contained 
forty-six hundred- and forty, and Providence thirty-four 
hundred and fifty-two inhabitants." 

The Assembly granted a lottery for the relief of ^^^g ^ 
Joseph Fox, a prisoner for debt in Newport jail. The Jan. 
case w^as peculiar, and his petition was urged by the ^' 

' Two of her guns now stand by the fountain in Washington square, 
Newport. Bull's Memoirs of E. I. 

These Queries from the Board of Trade are printed in the R. I. Col. 
Rec, V. 257. A copy of the census, taken from Douglas's Summary, and 
printed on p. 270, differs somewhat from the statement given in the text. 



CHAP, principal mercliaiits of the town. This was the third lot- 
tery granted by statute. The system had now become 
1748-9 established. 

The death of Eev. John Callender, pastor of the first 
'^gg * Baptist church in I^ewport, and author of the discourse 
upon the early history of Rhode Island, known as the 
Century Sermon, was a source of deep grief to the colony. 
He died at the age of forty-two, while in the full career 
of usefulness. 

The committee to whom the sale of bills of exchange 
Feb. on England was intrusted, reported the sale of seventy- 
eight hundred pounds sterling at an exchange of ten hun- 
dred and fifty pounds currency, for one hundred pounds 
sterling, showing the great and rapid depreciation in the 
paper money of the colony. Tlie exchange, only a few 
months before, when the account was rendered to the 
agent, as above mentioned, was five hundred and seventy 
per cent. So rapid a fall betokened the crash that was 
soon to overtake the commercial interests of the colony. 
The highway across Easton's Point in Middletown, was 
laid out. Hogs were prevented from running at large 
in the compact parts of Newport and Providence. A 
1749. light-house was ordered to be built at Beaver Tail, the 
south end of Conanicut, for the safety of commerce, which 
was accomplished during the next year. 

The movement in opposition to bills of credit, caused 
May 3. much alarm in Rhode Island. The Assembly appointed 
a committee to prepare instructions upon the subject. In 
SO. the House of Commons an inquiry was made as to the 
tenor and amount of this paper money, and orders were 
sent to every colony to prepare an accurate statement 
upon these points. The instructions for Partridge' being 
June approved, were signed by the governor, and sent to Eng- 
land together with a copy of the record of the last lot of 

July bills burnt in presence of the Assembly. A copy of the 

' R. I. Col. Rec, V. 270. 



vote in the House of Commons was sent to Eliode Island, citap. 
with orders from Whitehall to furnish the required infor- 
mation/ Every year the tenth bonds given for the pay- 1749. 
ment of the earlier bank issues were becoming due, and as 
fast as they were received into the treasury, the bills with 
which they w^ere paid were burnt, and at nearly every 
session, reports of the trustees, or grand committee," as 
they were called, were made concerning these bonds. 
Those that were not paid, were issued by the treasurer, 
but the interest on a large portion of the earlier issues was 
lost, because it was not secured, as was the principal, 
and at a later date, the interest bonds also, by mortgage 
on real estate. Tlie committee's report at this time, shows Aug. 
over half a million of pounds in bills of the several banks 
received by them.^ 

An act of Parliament, passed in favor of the Moravian 
society, Unitas Fratrum, was sent to all the colonies, com- 
mending that noble band of missionaries to special regard. 
Two preachers of the order, stopping at ^^ewport on their 
way to Surinam this year, organized a church in that 
place. Richard Haywood was their first convert, and one 
of them, Matthew Reutz, remained at ]N'ew]3urt for many 
years as a schoolmaster. 

James Muzzey, of Mendon, believing his land to be 
within the limits of this colony, petitioned that the north 
line should again be run, and surveyors were chosen for Oct. 
that purpose. But the time appointed by Rhode Island ^• 
had passed before the Massachusetts Assembly met. 

Several criminal statutes were enacted, and the first 25. 
case that we have noticed, where a divorce was granted 
by the Assembly, occurred at this time. The Rhode 
Island commissioners having adjourned for three Aveeks, 
and then not meeting with any from Massachusetts, ran 30. 
the line ex parte. The Massachusetts legislature, as soon 
as it met, appointed commissioners to unite with those of Dec. 
Rhode Island in renewing the line whenever this colony 

R. I. Col. Rec, V. 278. 

2 Ibid., 2(3. 



CHAP, was ready to do so. Accordingly, at the winter session, 
3^5^ after hearing the report of their connnittee upon the line, 
"^Fehf^ the Assembly re-a})pointed them, and fixed a day for the 
27/ line again to be run.' 

The committee to prepare the statistics for the House 
of Commons, made a full report, showing the sum of three 
hundred and twelve thousand three hundred pounds in bills 
of credit, emitted to supply the treasury since May 1710, 
of which one hundred and seventy-seven thousand had been 
burned at various times, and one hundred and thirty-tive 
thousand pounds were now outstanding. This was doubt- 
less the most favorable report that could be made. The 
bills are represented at their legislative, not their nominal 
value, and those only are considered as outstanding which 
had not yet become due. The whole amount here rep- 
resented as having been issued, was worth in sterling 
money, about thirty-six thousand pounds. A large num- 
ber of English statutes were adopted as laws of the colony.'' 
1750. The governor notified Massachusetts of the action in re- 
April crard to the boundary line. The two committees met in 

Wrentham, and spent two days in a vain attempt to agree 
upon a starting point. The Rhode Island men then 
measured off a line from the southernmost part of Charles 
liiver, three miles south, and thence west to the Connecti- 
cut frontier — the same line they had run in October, and 
which conformed to tl;e terms of the charter. The Massa- 
chusetts men claimed to start from a point fixed in 1612, 
four or five miles further south. 'No trace of this old 
starting point could be found, but the testimony of aged 
persons was taken as to its location. Both parties agreed 
to meet again at a future time, if authorized by their 
leo^islatures, and the Massachusetts men rendered their 
12. report the next day.' The General Assembly continued 
their commissioners, desired Massachusetts to refrain from 

^ The report, dated 22 Jan. 1749-50, is printed in R. I. Col. Rec, 
V. 280. 

^ R. I. Col. Rec, V. 285. ' Mass. Court files, iii. 85. 



taxing the inliabitants within tlie disputed lines, ordered CHAP, 
a niap of the tract to be prepared, and requested Connecti- ^^^^ 
cut to assist at the next meeting of the commissioners. 1750. 

Robert Hazard was cliosen deputy -governor in place ^' 
of Ellery. The iire department in Newport was more 
thoroughly organized, by tlie appointment of fire wards, 
and the town ordered a lire engine to be procured in Eng- 

The towns of East and West Greenwich, Warwick June 
and Coventry, w^ere taken off from Providence county, 
and erected into a separate jurisdiction as the county of 
Kent, with East Greenwich as its capital, and the people 
w^ere required at their own expense to build a court-house. 
The act against pedlars had been avoided by these per- 
sons hiring shops, in which to carry on their trade for a 
short time, and not being inhabitants of the towns, they 
escaped taxation. To remedy this evil, the assessors were 
required to tax such persons at their discretion, in propor- 
tion to the amount of their business. 

The long-deferred Cape Breton accounts, were at last ^^^^Y 
settled, and the money paid to Mr. Partridge, deducting 
the balance overpaid on the Canada expedition ; that ac- 
count having been cut down after the appropriation for 
it had once been made and paid over.'^ All the colonies 
were alike subjected to this reduction. 

The attempt of Massachusetts to levy taxes within the 
disputed territory, led to a riot, in which certain Rhode 
Island officers were implicated. Some of the rioters were 
arrested and taken to Worcester for trial. The Assembly 
interceded for their discharge, and again urged a cessation ^^q^' 
of taxes until the line could be arranged. The Jews were 
becoming important merchants in the colony, and we find 
that Moses Lopez of Newport was excused, at his own 
request, from all other civil duties, on account of his gra- 
tuitous services to the government in translating Spanish 

^ R. Partridge's letter, June 9, 1*750. See note on page 171 ante. 

VOL. II. — 48 



CHAP. A siDgular affair, of wliich tlie explanation must ever 
remain a mystery, occurred at this time. A vessel com- 

1750. ing from the westward with all sail set, and altering her 
course when close in so as to avoid the reef, came ashore 
on the nortli-west corner of Easton's Beach. Upon heing 
boarded hy some fishermen who had watclied her a])- 
proach, they found the breakfast table set, the kettle boil- 
ing on the fire, a dog and cat in the cabin, and every thing 
undisturbed, except that the long boat was missing, as if 
the crew had just left her. Not a soul was on board, nor 
was any thing ever lieai-d of from any of the crew, nor any 
trace of them or of their boat ever discovered. She was 
a brig from Honduras, belonging to Isaac Stelle, a mer- 
chant of Newport, and had been hourly expected, as she 
was spoken but a day or two before by a vessel since 
arrived. The captain's name was John Iluxham. He, 
with all hands, had evidently deserted her but a very 
short time before she stranded, although from what mo- 
tive is not apparent, and what had become of them was 
equally inexplicable. It . was surmised that the men, 
alarmed at the roar of the breakers, had taken to the boat 
and been swamped in the surf, but no bodies or pieces of 
the boat ever floated on shore. The brig was got off and 
sold to Henry Collins, then an extensive merchant in 
Newport, who changed her name to the Beach Bird. She 
made several voyages afterward, and her hulk was still 
lying in the harbor of Newport, at the time of the British 
occupation, when it was raised, and converted into an 
armed galley by the enemy.' 

The commissioners of tlie two colonies having agreed to 
meet in October to settle the boundary, the Rhode Island 
men"^ repaired to the appointed place in Wrentham, where 
after waiting two days without seeing the others, they 

^2^* proceeded to survey for a point three miles south of 

^ Buirs Memoirs of R. I. 
Jonathan Randal, Richard Steere, Thomas Lapham, Joseph Harrison, 
and Matthew Robinson. Their report is in R. I. Col. Rec, v. 322-5. 



Charles Eiv^er, wliicli proved to vary somewhat from that CHAP, 
determined by the former commissioners the year before. 
They adjourned from time to time, notifying the govern- 1750. 
ment of Massachusetts of each adjournment, hoping to be 
joined by the connnissioners from that province. Finally 
they completed the survey ex parte, and their report was 
entered in full upon the Assembly records in the follow- 
ing March. The Assembly passed a law prohibiting ap- Oct. 
peals to England from judgment rendered upon bonds for 
the payment of money. The paper-money party had ol)- 
tained a majority in the lower house, but the assistants 
were opposed to the system. A joint committee was ap- Dec. 
pointed to take the subject into consideration, and report 
by bill at the next session. No separate report was made, 1750-1 
but a bill was introduced, which complicated still further Mar. 
the existing monetary system, and soon rendered all cal- 
culations almost impossible from the accumulated varie- 
ties of worthless currency w^ith wdiich the colony was 
flooded. A ninth bank was issued, upon new plates, to 
the amount of twenty-five thousand pounds. By the 
act, as amended at the next session, the bills were to be 
let for ten years at five per cent, interest, and at the end 
of that time to be paid in five equal instalment^. The 
bills w^ere to be equal to silver at six shillings nine pence 
an ounce, and six shillings nine pence in these bills were 
made equivalent to sixteen shillings of new tenor, or 
sixty-four shillings of old tenor bills. The scale of values 
w^as established at £137 10^. of the new bills, or £275 of 
new tenor, or £1,100 of old tenor for one hundred pounds 
sterling. The ostensible purpose of the act was to afi'ord 
a bounty upon manufactured w^ool, flax, and the fisheries ; 
but these bounties were repealed at the next session, the 
former as being off'ensive to England, and the others as 
useless, and the interest money was devoted to the re- 
demption of bills issued to supply the treasury. Heavy 
penalties w^ere laid to prevent depreciation below the 
established scale, and " death to counterfeit this bill " was 



CHAP, inscribed on the new plate. The effect of this wretched 
system of finance was daily becoming manifest in the 
1750-1 changing conditions of Massachusetts and Kliode Island. 
In April, we are told by Douglas in his Sunnnary of the 
condition of the colonies, the bills of the two colonies were 
of equal value. In September, Rhode Island bills were 
twenty per cent, below those of her neighbor. Sterling 
exchange, which in the spring had been at eleven and a 
half for one, in the autunm stood at nine and a half for 
one, under the operation of the Massachusetts system ; 
wdiile in Rhode Island no such advance was realized, but 
on the contrary, bills on London now sold for eleven hun- 
dred per cent, premium in Rhode Island currency, as 
appears by the report of a committee entered on the 
records at this session ; and the new tenor bills had already 
sunk to less than half their stated value. Many old laws 
had to be revised to make them efficient by increasing the 
penalties attached to their violation, so great was the de- 
preciation in values. Among these was the Sunday law, 
passed seventy-two years before, and also that forbidding 
the entertainment of servants, with certain modifications. 
An excise upon liquors sold at retail in Newport was es- 
tablisl^ed, to be paid by all inn-keepers and dealers. 
Street lamps were set up in Newport by private enter- 
prise. To prevent them from being broken, a law was 
passed punishing such wilful offence by public whipping, 
not to exceed twenty lashes, or by a fine of twenty 
pounds, old tenor. A law was also enacted to prevent 
setting fire to the woods in any part of the colony. 

Massachusetts, after having repeatedly failed to unite 
with Rhode Island in adjusting the northern boundary, 
even when her own men had appointed the time of meet- 
ing, complained to Gov. Greene that this colony exer- 
cised jurisdiction within the disputed lines, and withheld 
the taxes due to her from the people there residing. No 
^ar. reply being made to the letter, a committee was appoint- 
ed to consider what course to adopt. Their report advises 



tliat the whole subject be referred to the agent in Eng- chap. 
land to represent the case to the King.' 

Joseph AVhipple, who had several times been deputy- 1751. 
governor, was again chosen to that office. The new bank -^^^ ^' 
act excited some misgivings in the minds of its friends, 
and great hostility in its foes. This was natural, but a 
more formidable opposition was soon to be developed. 
The motion in Parliament, already mentioned, had secured 
the data upon w^liich direct action could be taken, and 
already an act was introduced to regulate and restrain 27 * 
paper bills of credit " in the Xew England colonies. Yio- 
L^nt opposition to the system was made in Newport. An 
ably drawn petition^ to the King, from the merchants of 
that place, was received while the bill was under debate ^<\v 8. 
in the House of Commons. Partridge opposed its passage, 
by counsel, as being unjust towards Rhode Ishmd. This 
very long and plausible argument, resulted in securing 
certain amendments which, to use his own expression, 
" took the sting out of it." The ministry were determined 
on its passage, so that Partridge, having secured the de- 
sired ameliorations in the Commons, withdrew his opposi- 
tion in the Lords, and the bill passed.^ 20. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Greene had replied to the letter from 
Massachusetts, which announced their determination to 
refer the dispute to England. The provincial council re- j^^^^ 
solved to continue to exercise jurisdiction over the terri- 5. 
tory.* The General Assembly ordered a full statement 10. 
of the case to be prepared, and presented at the next ses- 
sion. The Newport petition against paper money, caused 
much excitement. A hostile committee, appointed to 
examine the facts therein stated, and to ascertain the 

^ Mass. Court Files, iii. 88-90. 

^ A copy of this petition, dated Newport, Sept. 4, 1750, and signed by 
72 persons, is preserved in the State Record Office. 

^ See R. Partridge's letter of May 17, 1751, in Letters 1750-56 R. I. 
Record Office. 

* Mass. Court Files, iii. 91. 



CHAP, characters of tlie signers, were compelled to report that 
^^J^ the allegations were substantially correct. The names of 

1751. the signers sufficiently attested their respectability. 
Julv 9. Official notice of the law restraining paper issues was sent 
Aug. fi'om Whitehall. A vain effort was made to arrest the 

19. depreciation of the bills by statutes, prescribing that judg- 
ments of court should be made up upon the basis of the 
new scale of values, and binding parties, before granting 
executions upon such judgments, by an oath that they 
had not varied from that scale in their dealings. 

Hitherto there had been but one notary public for the 
Avhole colony, residing in N^ewport. The increasing busi- 
ness of Providence required greater facilities, so that one 

Oct. was appointed in that town. An appropriation was made 
for a quarantine house at Providence. The small-pox 
had been brought there from sea, and there was no hos- 
pital in the colony except at Newport. 

1752. By a late act of Parliament, the calendar year, hereto- 
Jau. 1. f^YQ begun on the twenty-fifth of March, commenced on 

the first of January, so that we are henceforth freed from 
the confusion arising from the double date of the year 
between those days, and the consequent uncertainty at- 
tending the precise date of many important events, arising 
from a diversity in the custom of counting the twenty- 
fifth or the first days of March as in the new year. Tlie 
entire month of March had hitherto been called the first 
month, although five-sixths of it belonged in the old year. 
It now became the third month.* 

Since the establishment of the lottery system, it had 
been employed to raise funds for many and various ob- 
jects, for public works and private charities. The streets 
of ^^ewport were originally paved, and some bridges in 

^ The act to correct the calendar was introduced Feb. 25, 1751, by the 
Earl of Chesterfield, and passed without debate, upon the second reading, 
on the 18th March. The new yea.v was to begin on the 1st January — but 
the correction of II days in the day of the month was not to take effect till 
Sept. 1752. 



tlie colony constnicted, from tlie proceeds of duties on ^^^'^j^- 
imported slaves. This source of revenue having Ijeen cut v^.^ 
off by act of l*arliament as before stated, a lottery was now l^'^^. 
granted, for paving the streets ; the parade, then called 24.' 
Queen street, and Thames street, were to be iinished first. 

The Lords Justices called for a copy of the laws of the April 
colony to be sent to them. 

The north-line committee visited Hartford, and there, 
in connection with Connecticut government, drew up a 4. 
statement of the case, which was presented to the General May 6. 
Assembly, showing that the corner stake set by Massachu- 
setts in 1642, and agreed to by Connecticut and Ehode 
Island in their subsequent settlements of the line with 
that province, was four miles and fifty-six poles too far 
south, and that the latter agreements had been made with- 
out a survey by the adverse parties — they not suspecting 
any error or fraud on the part of Massachusetts, nor de- 
tecting any till the recent surveys were made by Eliode 
Island. The report concludes by advising that both par- 
ties unite in prosecuting the claim against Massachusetts in 
England.' The blind confidence shown by Ehode Island 
in the settlement of 1719, after the experience she had 
had of the spirit of her neighbors in matters of jurisdic- 
tion, has been, perhaps deservedly, punished by the ulti- 
mate loss of the valuable tract in dispute, after another 
century of contest. But this result does not justify the 
false measurement by Massachusetts of the three miles 
from the southernmost part of Charles River, to which the 
terms of both charters confined her ; nor does it make a 
compromise agreement, the basis of which was, to use the 
mildest terms, a gross error, any more binding in equity 
that it has been decided to be valid in law. The accounts June 
of the parties concerned in this affair, were presented at ^' 
the next session and allowed. Private business, the usual 
objects of wdiich were the granting of new trials, the Aug. 

' See R. I. Col. Rec. v. 346. 



CHAP, naturalization of foreis^ners, and the examination of ac- 

XVII . . 

^^^.^ counts chieflj occupied the Assembly. 

1752. The great law-suit for the possession of tlie glebe lands 
^* in Narraganset, was decided by the King in council after 
a litigation of nearly thirty years. It arose from a grant 

166S. of three hundred acres of land, made eighty-four years 
before, by the Pettacpaniscot purchasers, for the support 
of an Orthodox minister. The grantors at that time were 
mostly of the Church of England but no occupation of 

1702. the lands for the purpose designated was had, and thirty- 
four years after the grant, the lands were entered upon and 
improved by two private parties. The grantors had mean- 
wdiile left the Church of England, and attached themselves 
to other religious societies, chiefly Congregational, and had 
then, by a later deed, confirmed the original grant. Niles, 
the Congregational minister, not then ordained, began to 
preach in that vicinity the same year that possession was 
taken of the land, but never claimed it for his church. 

1719. The principal trespasser afterward sold his assumed rights 
to another occuj^ant. The other, who had but twenty acres, 

1721. surrendered possession to McSparran upon his arrival. 

1723. He brought a writ of ejectment to recover the other portion 
of tlie tract, but was cast in tlie suit. The original deed 
could not be found. Torrey, the Presbyterian minister, 
duly ordained, also brought an action for the same land, 

1734. in behalf of his church, which on appeal to England, was 
decided in his favor. Afterward, the original deed hav- 

1737. ing been found, McSparran brought a new action. The 
case was contested between the Episcopal and Presbyte- 

1739. rian churches for many years, and decided by the Superior 
Court of Rhode Island in favor of the latter ; which ver- 

1752. diet was this year finally confirmed by the King, upon 
the ground that by the Phode Island charter all denomi- 
nations were Orthodox, and that a majority of the 
grantors, when the deed took eff'ect, were Presbyterians 
or Congregationalists. The case excited great interest in 



tlie colony, and the papers relating to it are very vulunii- chap. 

nous.' i^J^ 

The law adopting the Gregorian or New Style, now 1752. 

took effect by adding eleven days to the current day of '^g''^' 

the month. The day following the second of September 

was counted as the fourteenth. 

No public business was done at the next session. Oct, 
. . . . 28 

Tlie fourth edition of printed laws was published this 

sunnner by Ann and James Franklin at Newport, and 

copies were sent to England as required.' 

At the winter session, the people of Kent county, 
having built the court-house at Greenwich at their own 
expense, petitioned for a lottery grant to enable them to 
finish and furnish it, which was allowed. The towns in 
Providence county were impowered to build a. work- 
house, to be paid for by proportionate taxation, and each 
town was to support its own paupers therein. A similar 
measure had been proposed fifteen years before, and had 
failed. How long this continued as a joint concern, is 
unknown. Tlie poor-house in Providence resulted from 
this movement at a somewhat later day. 

Stephen Decatur, said to have been a native of Genoa, 
who for seven years past had been an officer of one of the 
Newport privateers, and had married in that town, took 
the requisite oaths, and was naturalized at this session. 
Ilis son, the father of the celebrated Commodore Decatur, 
was born in Newport the April previous. 

At the general election, the same officers were chosen. May 2. 
The adjourned session was occupied with private business. June 
Beaver Tail lighthouse having been burnt down, the As- 
sembly ordered a new one to be forthwith constructed of ^20' 
brick or stone, with a house adjoining for the use of the 

^ A more full account of this famous lawsuit than our liiaits will permit 
is given in Updike's Xart. Church, pp. 70-82. 

^ No copy of this edition exists in the Secretary's office. The allowance 
of £355 for printing and stitching it was made to the Franklins by the As- 
sembly in August, 1753. The number of laws in this edition is stated 
at 471. 



CHAP, keeper. It was difficult to find men willing to be over- 
seers of the poor. To remedy tliis, a refusal to accept the 

1753. office was punished by fine, and power was given to over- 
seers to bind out idle or indigent persons to service. One 
John Martin, having been convicted of abusing the Gen- 
eral Assembly, was sentenced to close confinement in 
Newport jail, without the use of writing materials, or hav- 
ing communication with any one but the sheriff. This 
summary treatment soon brought him to repentance, and 

■^g^' three days after sentence he acknowledged his offence, 
asked pardon of the Assembly, and was accordingly dis- 
charged, on payment of costs. 

The calendar of private petitions shows how severe 
was the financial revulsion wliicli now came upon the 
colony. The ruinous system of paper money was working 
its legitimate result ; yet, w^ortliless as it was, and severe 
as were the penalties for counterfeiting it, already had 
the depreciation of the latest issue commenced, hastened 
by the boldness of forgers. But this last blow was not 
needed to condemn a system w^hose intrinsic falsity could 
not fail in time to become apparent. Among the victims 
of the crash that had now come upon the colony, was 
Joseph Whipple, the deputy-governor, whose extensive 
mercantile operations could no longer be sustained under 
a disordered and factitious currency He surrendered all 
his property to the use of his creditors, and received the 
benefit of a special act of insolvency. The terms of his 
petition are truly pathetic, such as, under the circum- 
stances, and in an age when failures were almost un- 
known, an honest and honorable man in his position 
might well employ. 

Oct. When the next Assembly met at South Kingstown, 
Mr. Whipple resigned his place as deputy-governor, and 
2. * Jonathan Nichols was elected to that office. A new court- 
house was built at South Kingstown, and new jails for 
Kings and Providence counties. Parliament had passed 
an act to encourage the making of potash in the colonies. 



Moses LojDez obtained from the Assembly a i:>atent for chap. 
ten years upon an improved method of making it, known 
only to himself. 1758. 

The cloud of war was once more gathering. The at- 
tempt made during the past year, by the commissioners at 
Paris, to define the boundaries of the French and English 
possessions in North America, had failed. The colonies 
of the rival nations pushed their advanced posts nearer to 
each other. Orders were sent from Whitehall' to all the 
colonies, first to remonstrate and then to repel force by 
force if necessary. It was in consequence of this that the 
name of George Washington first appears in history, as ^^v. 
the bearer of a letter of remonstrance from Gov. Dinwiddle 
to the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf. The Board 
of Trade having proposed a meeting of commissioners 
from all the colonies, at Albany, to treat with the Six 
Nations, Gov. Delancey, of New York wrote to Khode 29. 
Island naming the fourteenth of June for this purpose. 
Active measures were taken by both parties to fortify 
their frontiers, and to occupy the intervening region of 
the Ohio valley. While on his mission to the French, 
Washington observed the commanding position for a fort 
at the head of the Ohio River, and a few soldiers were 
soon sent there by Gov. Dinw^iddie to construct one. The 
French drove them off, and commenced building Fort 
Duquesne, named for their governor-general, on the spot Aj]^^^ 
where Pittsburg now stands. To counteract these move- 
ments. Gov. Delancey proposed erecting forts in northern 
New York, and wrote to this colony stating his plans.^ 22. 
Affairs were hastening to a crisis. A regiment of six 
hundred Virginians were already on their march to the 
frontier, when the news of the occupation of Fort Du- 
quesne reached them. Lieutenant-colonel Washington, 
with a small detachment, pushed forward to reconnoitre. 
Near the Great Meadows they surprised, by night, an ad- 

> Dated 28th August, 1753. See Letters 1750-6. 
^ R. I. Col. Rec. V. 383. 


vanced party of Freneli troops under Jumonville. It wns 
then that Washmgton Inmself fired the first musket of the 
war. A short, sharp actioii ensued. The French com- 
mander and ten of his men were slain. This was the first 
blood shed in the fourth intercolonial war, generally known 
at this day as " the old French war." Its momentous 
results no human eye could foresee ! 

The General Assembly at the winter session chartered 
the Providence library association, and gave them the use 
of the council chamber for depositing their boohs. This was 
the second incorporated library in the State. A patent 
for making pearl ashes was issued to James Rodgers of 
Newport, on similar terms with that to Lopez for potash. 

John Gai'dner was chosen deputy-governor at the 
spring election. James Shefiield was made captain of 
Fort George. The penalty of death was denounced against 
counterfeiters. The Fellowship Club, a benevolent asso- 
ciation of sea-captains, for mutual assistance, which after- 
ward became the ^^ewport Marine Society, was incorpo- 
rated.^ Providence now contained over six hundred free- 
men, and covered so large a territory, that the southern 
portion of it was set off as a new township, and incorpo- 
rated with the name of Cranston. The first charter elec- 
tion in the new town was held without delay. Stephen 
Hopkins and Martin Howard, jr., were appointed commis- 
sioners to attend the convention at Albany, and aid, to the 
amount of one hundred pounds sterling, was voted to fur- 
ther the objects of the conference. At this congress of 
delegates, the aifair with the Six Nations having been 
satisfactorily arranged, a plan of union of all the colonies 
for common defence, submitted by Benjamin Franklin, 
was debated, and by a singular coincidence, was adopted 
by the delegates on the fourth day of July,' but it did 
not meet the approval of either the colonial or home gov- 

^ In June, 1785, the charter was amended, and the name "Marine 
Society " adopted. 

Belknap's New Hampshire, ii. 286. 



ernments, and was subsequently abandoned. Tlie Kliode CIIAP. 
Island delegates reported to the Assembly, the proceed- 
ings of the Congress.^ Tlie warlike aspect of affairs, called 1754. 
for efficient action, and the bills of credit were falling due. 
To meet these demands, taxes to the amount of tliirty 
thousand pounds were levied on the colony, five thousand 
of which were for repairing Fort George. The tonnage 
dues were increased to defray the expenses of keeping 
up the lighthouse at Beaver Tail, the rebuilding of which 
had just been completed. An additional tax of five thou- Oct. 
sand pounds was levied by the next Assembly for tlie re- 
pairs of Fort George. Tlie entire tax of thirty-five thou- 
sand pounds was apportioned among the towns, one-fifth 
of it to iN'ewport. A fire-engine was ordered for Provi- 
dence, to be paid for by taxing the houses in the compact 
part of the town, and every housekeeper was required to 
keep two leather fire buckets ready for service. 

Orders were sent from Whitehall to raise two thou- 26. 
sand men in 'New England, under command of Shirley 
and Pepperell, and two regiments of regulars were de- 
tailed for Virginia, there to be reinforced by troops raised 
in that province. Provisions and money were to be fur- 
nished by the colonies. Upon receipt of this order. Gov. 1T55. 
Greene convened the Assembly. A fund of four thousand 
pounds, old tenor,. at ten per cent, interest was provided, 
and one hundred men were enlisted. A commissary-gene- 
ral was appointed, and, upon petition from Westerly and 
Charlestown, an artillery company of a hundred men was 
chartered, on the same terms with those of Newport and 
Providence. They adjourned for one month, and then Teb. 
revised the militia law, increasing the fines for neglect of ^' 
duty, replenished the military stores in each county, con- 
structed a powder magazine in Newport, and organized 
a troop of horse in Newport, under Benjamin Sherburne. 
They also drew up a petition, to be sent with a plan of 

' R. I. Col. Rec. V. 393. 



CHAP. Fort George, asking for additional cannon, and empower- 
^Jl^ ed tlie caj^tain of the fort to enlist fifty men to exercise at 
1755. the gnns, and garrison the works. A committee of war 
was chosen to have the general direction of military 
affairs. While the Assembly was in session, a letter was 
sent from Gov. Shirley, highly complimenting the prompt- 
ness of tlieir action, and desiring that ten men he added 
to the one hundred already ordered.' The xissembly 
complied by increasing the number to a hundred and 
thirteen. All French subjects found in Massachusetts 
were placed in confinement, to prevent their sending aid 
17. or advices t& the enemy, and Shirley urged Rhode Island 
to adopt the same summary measures, and also to prohilut 
the exportation of provisions.^ Shirley had conceived the 
plan of attacking the French in Nova Scotia, and thus, 
by dividing the enemy's forces, to assist Gov. Dinwiddie's 
operations on the Ohio, and at the same time to attack 
Crown Pohit, and erect a fort near that strong position. 
For this latter purpose he appointed Col. William John- 
son, of the Mohawk country, to the chief command, whose 
influence with the Six Nations \yas unbounded. These 
24. plans were communicated to Gov. Greene, with a request 
that he would at once convene the Assembly to act upon 
March them, and Thomas Hutchinson, afterward governor of 
^- Massachusetts, and historian of that province, was sent to 
Rhode Island to urge their co-operation.^ The Assembly 
6. was called by special warrant. Four hundred men were 
voted for the Crown Point expedition, to be under com- 
mand of Col. Christopher Harris, and the former acts for 
a hundred and thirteen men were repealed." Provisions 

1 Shirley's MS. letters. R. I. Col. Rec. v. 412. 
= R. I. Col. Rec. V. 41.3. 

' Shirley's MS. letters. R. I. Col. Rec. v. 414-17. 

* This force was divided into four companies, officered as follows : Chris- 
topher Harris, Colonel. Captains — Edward Cole, Robert Sterry, Henry 
Biibcocrk, Abraham Francis. Lieutenants — Samuel Nichols, D;ivid Dexter. 
Edward Gray, John Wardwell. Ensigns — Joshua Bill, Thomas Burket, Icha- 
bod Babcock, Joseph Potter. 



for two months, with ammunition and warhke stores were CIIAP. 

ordered to be sent forward to Albany. Sixty thousand 

pounds in old tenor bills were issued to meet the expen- 1755. 
ses, redeemable by taxation within two years, and the 
words " Crown Point " were to be stamped on the back 
of these notes. Christopher Champlin was appointed 
commissary to the troops. An annual pension of fifty 
pounds was pledged to any one who should lose a limb or 
be disabled in the expedition. Acts were passed to pre- 
vent the shipment of provisions to French ports, and em- 
powering the magistrates to arrest all French subjects 
within the colony. 

The jealousy of Rhode Island at any movement that 
might affect her cliarter privileges has often been noticed 
in these pages. The projected union of the colonies at 
the late convention in Albany, and a contemplated plan 
to the same effect by the British ministry, were calculated 
to arouse this feeling in full vigor. Hitherto the agres- 
sions of unsympatliizing neighbors, the ambition of royal 
governors, or the opposition of ministers to the democratic 
element embodied in the charter, had been the sources of 
peril w^hich, for more than a century, quickened the spirit 
of eternal vigilance. A new direction was given to it by 
these proposals. A union, for whatever purpose, that 
might compromise 'the chartered liberties of the State, 
Avas not to be considered without long and serious debate. 
The spirit wdiich thirty-five years later gave rise to the 
fiercest struggle ever known in Rhode Island, was now 
first manifested in a vote of the Assembly upon a letter 
to be sent to the agent, wherein he was " directed to be 
upon his watch, and if any thing shall be moved in Par- 
liament, respecting the plan for a union of his Majesty's 
northern colonies, projected at Albany, which may have 
a tendency to infringe on our chartered privileges, that he 
use his utmost endeavors to get it put off, until such 
time as the government is furnished with a copy, and 
have opportunity of making answer thereunto." At a later 



CHAP, date we shall liave occasion to revert to this significant 

1755. A stormy period i]i Rhode Island annals, both civic 
and martial, had commenced. Since the political excite- 
ment ceased, on the election of Gov. Arnold, at the close 
of Philip's war, there had been but very few occasions 
for the display of party spirit. The j^'^per-mone}' system 
had elicited a strong opposition, and presented the only 
important question for many years, to distract the colony. 
But a new issue was about to offer, that was destined to 
divide the people down to the period when all minor 
matters were absorbed in the momentous measures of in- 
dependence. This Avas, to a great extent, a merely per- 
sonal issue between rival candidates ; but it also com- 
bined, in various modes and degrees, at different times, 
most of the great topics that liad ever before divided the 
popular mind. Questions of peace or war, of hard money 
or paper, were blended with 23ersonal preferences for the 
prominent candidates, while the growth of the centres of 
population now added another element of contention, 
Avhich seems for a time to have overshadowed all the rest 
in a struggle lietween town and country. The bitterness 
of party strife is often developed in an inverse ratio to 
the intrinsic merits of the controversy. No hostility is so 
keen, as that wiiicli has for its basis persons, rather than 
jirinciples, or more unrelenting than one tliat, without 
just foundation, arrays men against each other, in some- 
thing like a war of classes, upon local divisions or differ- 
ences of position, wliether geographical or social. When 
j)Osition l)ecomes the criterion of party, principles soon 
perish in the conflict. 

What is known as the Ward and Hopkins controversy, 
commenced at this time with Gov. Greene. He was on 
terms of most intimate friendship with Sanniel Ward, 
whose name will presently appear in the struggle.' 

^ His son, the second Governor William Greene, married Catherine Ray 
of New Shoreham, a sister of the wile of Gov. Samuel Ward. 



Family pride and local interests couil)intjd to embitter the CHAP. 

protracted feud. The contest at this election was very 

severe, resulting in a change of one half the upper house. 1755. 

Stephen IIo|)kins was chosen governor, and Jonathan -^'^^ 

Nicliols de])uty-governor lor two successive years. 

The Assembly placed the four companies for Crown 

Point upon a regimental footing. The officers were to be 

commissioned by the council of war, and were authorized 

to recruit their ranks from the other colonies, or from the 

Six Nations if necessary. Transports were hired at five 

hundred pounds each to convey the troops, each company June 

with its arms and stores in a separate vessel. A further ^' 

issue of forty thousand pounds was made, on the same 9. 

conditions with the emission in March. 

The defeat and death of Gen. Braddock, near Fort July 

. 9. 

Duquesne, spread consternation throughout the colonies. 
It was in that action that the provincial troops, led by 
Washington, showed their superiority over regulars in the 
conduct of Indian warfare, and were enabled to cover the 
retreat of the routed English. To strike a counter blow 
that should save the whole continent from falling into the 
hands of the French, was now imperative. Additional 
forces must be sent against the enemy at Crown Point, 
and great efforts were made by all the colonies. Gov. 
Hopkins convened the Assend)ly by special warrant. 
Three new companies of fifty men each, were raised, and 
hurried forward by land to xVlbany, in order to reach the 
army before an action should trdvo place. They were 
joined to Col. Harris's command, and thus increased the 
Phode Island regiment to five hundred and fifty men.' 
Seven members of the Assembly protested against this 
lev}^, on the ground that the colony having already sent 
its full quota, they were unwilling to burden their con- 

^ The officers of these three companies were as follows : Captains — John 
Whiting, Amos Hammond, William Bradford. Lieutenants — Benjamin Hali, 
Stephen Arnold (of Smithfield), Robert Hopkins (of Exeter). Ensigns — 
Benjamin Bosworth, Joseph Davis of (Cumberland), Jonathan Andrew. 
VOL. II. — 49 



CHAP, stituents further. Twenty thousand pounds of Crown 
XVII • • 

.^^^^ Point bills of credit were issued to meet the expenses, on 
1755. the same terms with the one hundred thousand already 
emitted this year. Another appropriation of five thou- 
sand pounds was made to enlarge Fort George, and two 
thousand more were conditionally allowed, provided 
Newport would contribute five thousand for the same 
object. Six vessels that had cleared for the West Indies 
and Africa were embargoed, and a part of their cargo of 
provisions was taken from them to supply tlie troops. 
Complaints having been made by Shirley, who, by the 
death of Braddock became commander-in-chief, that Cape 
Breton and other French colonies received supplies from 
Ehode Island, a committee was appointed to examine into 
the facts. Th jy reported that no such act had been com- 
mitted, and explained clearly the circumstances that had 
given rise to the charge. Certain French subjects, who 
for some months had been confined to their houses under 
surveillance of the committee of war, were ordered to 
leave the colony within tw^enty days. A law for the 
relief of poor and disabled persons was enacted, requiring 
that they should be supported by their relatives, if able 
to do so, under direction of the justices of the peace. 

Gov. Hopkins was elected chief justice of the Superior 
Court ; a union of the highest executive and judicial 
powers in the colony, as rare as it would, at this day, be 
thought dangerous. It attests the confidence of the peo- 
ple in his integrity and uncommon mental endowments. 

Meanwhile, the colonial army, six thousand strong, 
under Gen. Lyman of Connecticut, had taken post at the 
head of Hudson Biver, and built Fort Lyman, afterward 
called Fort Edward. There they were joined by Gen. 
Johnson, with some artillery, wdio assumed the command, 
and advanced to Lake George. Baron Dieskau, with 
three thousand men, marched from Montreal to besiege 
Fort Lyman, but, suddenly changing his plan, turned to 
attack Johnson. In a narrow defile near Johnson's camp^ 



lie encountered a detaclunent of Massachusetts troops and CHAP. 
Indians, led by Col. Williams, and Ilendrick, the Mohawk 
chief, and defeated them with the loss of both their com- 1755. 
manders. Within three miles of this fatal ravine, was the 
main camp, on the margin of Lake George. Dieskau 
pressed forward to the attack. The intrenchments wore 
incomplete, but a few heavy guns brought up from the 
lake opened an unexpected fire, which disordered the ad- 
vancing columns and terrified their Indian allies. It was 
near noon when the battle began. Johnson received a 
ball in the thigh early in the fight, and retired from the 
ground, leaving Gen. Lyman in command. Dieskau 
fought most gallantly, and although three times severely 
wounded, refused to be borne off the field. For five hours 
the battle raged, sustained by the courage of the Kew 
England troops, wdio poured upon the enemy a continual 
fire, " the most violent that had yet been known in 
America." ' The loss of the Americans was about three 
hundred ; that of the French more than three times that 
number. The remnants of Dieskau's army retreated to 
Crown Point, leaving their leader a prisoner and mortally 
wounded. Later in the day, the enemy's baggage was 
captured by some 'New Hampshire troops, after a short 
struggle with the gu-ard. For this action, Johnson was 
knighted, and received five thousand pounds from Parlia- 
ment ; but the honor of the victory belongs to Lyman. 
He alone conducted the battle from the commencement, 
but history has yet to accord to him the glory which is 
his due. 

Col. Harris had returned to Phode Island, to obtain 
clothing for his regiment, leaving Lieutenant-colonel Cole, 
of whom Johnson speaks highly as an active officer, in 
command.^ Shirley was at Oswego designing to attack 
Niagara. An army from Massachusetts under Winslow, 
had gone to expel the French from the Bay of Fundy. 

^ Bancroft, iv. 211. 

''Johnson's MS. letter, Aug. 20, 1755. 



CHAP. The extent of the military operations in hand, required 
new levies of troops to be made in all the colonies, and on 
1755. the same day with the battle of Lake George, Gov. IIop- 
Sept. called an extra session of the Assembly for this 

purpose. Of the three companies raised in August, two 
had already marched by land to Albany, and Capt. 
AVhiting's company, having been hitherto delayed, was 
now ordered to embark in a sloop to jmn the army. Four 
additional companies of fifty men each were raised, and 
sent forward in all haste to join Col. Harris's command, 
making the lihode Island regiment seven hundred and 
fifty men, divided into eleven companies.^ The expenses 
of so large a force fell heavily upon the feeble colony, 
weakened as it was by the financial derangement which 
every new emission of paper bills served to increase. But 
there was now no remedy for this ; the troops must be 
sustained, and another issue of Crown Point bills to the 
amount of sixty thousand pounds was made. 

Under Monckton and Winslow, the French forts in 
the Bay of Fundy had been broken up, but the people of 
]N"ova Scotia, who, by the terms of their surrender forty 
years before, were excused from bearing arms against 
their kindred, and hence were known as " the neutral 
French," were suspected of aiding the enemy. It was 
decreed tliat they should be driven from their native soil, 
and distributed among the other American colonies. 
Tills was done under circumstances so atrocious, that 
history affords no parallel, since tlie expulsion of the Jews 
from Spain, to the violence of the suff"erings inflicted upon 
these unhappy Acadians. 

Although the war was so fiercely waged on the west- 
ern continent, no formal declaration had yet been made, 

^ These four companies were officered as follows : Captains — Daniel 
Bosvvorth, John Potter, jr., Robert Hopkins, Barzillai Richmond. Lieuten- 
ants — Christopher Hargil, Willian^ Richmond, jr., Ebenezer Cahoone, Eben- 
ezer Jenckes. Ensigns — William Nichols, James Tew, jr., Giles Russell^ 
Nathaniel Peck. 



but depredations upon Frencli commerce had conmienced, CHAP- 
and the channel ports were tln^onged with Frencli prizes/ 
This system of reprisals had begun somewhat earlier in 1755. 
the colonies. A vessel belonging to the Marcpiis of Lam- 
bertie, which had put in to Newport in J une, was there 
seized and condemned by the Court of Admiralty, and 
the marquis imprisoned, under the act for that purpose, 
until sent to England, Avhere he com])lained of his treat- 
ment in Rhode Island, but obtained no redress. 

Shirley desired a conference with the several gov- 
ernors, to be held at New York, to arrange a plan of cam- 
paign for the next year. The General Assembly appoint- 
ed Gov. Hopkins and Daniel Updike as delegates to this 
convention. One hundred and eighty thousand pounds in 
old tenor bills had been issued the present year, to defray 
the expenses of the war. To redeem a portion of this Crown 
Point paper, as it was called, a tax of seventy thousand 
pounds was levied upon the colony, one-fifth of which, as 
in the last tax, was assessed on Newport. 

The progress of the war in America led to the estab- '^ov, 
lishment, by the post- office department, of a monthly line 
of packets between Falmouth and New York. Letters 
of thanks were sent to all the colonies for their zeal in the 
common cause.^ 

The Board of Trade forwarded a series of inquiries into 
the condition of the colony, similar to those before ema- 
nating from that source. Upon its reception, the Assem- Dec. 
bly was again called together, and adopted measures to 
furnish the required information., A census was taken. 
The population of the colony was found to be but little 
short of forty thousand, of whom about thirty-six thou- 
sand were whites, and the number of men capable of 
bearing arms was eight thousand two hundred and sixty- 
two, of whom about fifteen hundred were soon after en- 
gaged in manning privateers. Shirley having disbanded 

^ Partridge's MS. letter, September 13. 

2 That to this colony is in R. I. Col. Rec. v. 46Y. 


CHAP, the greater portion of the army for the winter, the Asseni- 
^5^^ bly voted to retain a hundred and eighty-tive men in 
1756. military service, one hundred of them at liome, and the 
others in the garrisons of Fort Edward and Fort AVilHam 
Henry, near Lake George. The Ehode Island troops 
Jan. were at the latter fort, and formed neai'ly one-third of the 
garrison. Capt. Whiting, of the fifth Ehode Island com- 
pany, Avas made fort-major and adjutant of the garrison, 
and his conduct is highly commended in the official re- 

Feb. The reduction of Crown Point was definitely aban- 
doned for the winter by Shirley. In fact, some of the co- 
lonial Assemblies were dissatisfied with the results of the 
past year, and had lost confidence in the commander-in- 
chief. Ehode Island did not share in this distrust, but 
continued her preparations to take the field in the coming 
spring. A regiment of five hundred men, including the 
23, company at Fort William Henry, was voted, divided into 
ten companies, and officered.^ A vote of thanks to Major- 
General Johnson and to Capt. William Eyre, engineer-in- 
chief, for their services in the late campaign, was adopted. 
The militia act was amended. Five thousand pounds, in 
addition to the previous sums, were appropriated to re- 
build Fort George. John Eodgers, and others of ISTew- 
port, formerly commissioned officers, but now exempt 

^ Commander Glas^ier's MS. letter of January 12. R. I. Col. Rec. v. 472. 

^ The officers of this ref^iment were as follows : Christopher Harris, 
Colonel; Christopher Champlin, jr., Lieut. Col.; Samuel Angel, Major; 
Thomas Burket, 1st Lieut., and Elkanah Spear, 2d Lieut, of Col. H.'s com- 
pany. William Richmond, jr., 1st, and Benjamin Bosworth, 2d Lieut, of 
Lieut. Col. C.'s company. Silas Cook, 1st Lieut., and Mark Noble 2d Lieut, 
of Major A.'s company. Of the other six companies now raised the officers 
were: Captains — George Gardner, jr., Henry Babcock, Barzillai Richmond, 
John Potter, jr., Daniel Bosworth, Amos Hammond. 1st Lieutenants — 
John Linscomb, Giles Russcl, Joseph Davis, Grindal Reynolds, Christopher 
Hargil, Samuel Champlin. 2d Lieutenants — James Tew, jr., Samuel Hearne, 
Nathaniel Peck, George Shearman, Edward Taiby, Samuel Rose. Joshua 
Brown was made 2d lieutenant of Capt. John Whiting's company at Fort 
William Henry. Rufus Hopldns, commissary. In May, Giles Rnssel was 
made adjutant of the regiment, and Ephraim Starkweather, chaplain. 



from militaiy duty, petitioned for a charter, and were in- chap. 
corporated as an independent company. Tlie martial 
spirit of tlie people was thoroughly roused, and no efforts 175G. 
were spared to render efficient service to the common 
cause. To meet the expense, an issue of eight thousand 
pounds in hills of credit of a new form, called " lawful 
money," was made. These bills w^ere printed in type ; 
they were to pass at the rate of those in the neighboring 
colonies ; their value was stated in silver at six and 
eightpence an ounce, and they were dated from the pass- 27. 
age of the act. Any money that might be received from 
England for war exjjenses, was to be used in redeeming 
the Crown Point bills. The balance of them was to be 
sunk by taxation ; and finally, the value of old or new 
tenor paper was not to be effected by these law^ful money 
bills. Spanish dollars had begun to appear in circula- 
tion, and the genius of counterfeiters, hitherto exercised 
on the paper money, was now directed to this more relia- 
ble currency. 

Shirley w^as superseded as commander-in-chief in ^l^''^^- 
America, by Lord Loudoun, who was to bring out with 
him a large force of regular troops to prosecute the w^ar 
with vigor. To encourage the colonists to renewed exer- 
tions, a grant of one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds 
sterling was made towards their expenses during the past 

The General Assembly ordered the regiment to be May 6. 
completed by impressment if necessary. A large quanti- 
ty of military stores to arm the troops were received from 
Shirley. John Wanton and others petitioned that sea 
captains be drafted to exercise at the guns on Fort 
George, in lieu of other military duty, and the captain of 
the fort was empowered to enlist fifty men for that pur- 
pose. William Mumford was chosen to command the 

^ The amount assigned to R. I. from this grant was £6,684: 12s. 3(/., 
which was received in gold and silver, in September. See Apthorpe & Sons' 
letter and order of 31st August, 1756. R. I. Col. Rec. v. 533. 



CHAP. fort. The Assembly appointed tlie twentietli of May as 
^ a claj of fasting and prayer, and the governor issned his 
1756. proclamation accordingly. This is the earliest record we 
find of a public fast day in this colony, appointed by the 
Assembly. The British fleet at Halifax required seamen, 
May and Shirley wrote to Gov. Hopkins to ship as many sailors 
as possible for that service, and also to hasten forward the 
land forces to Albany. 

At length, after two years of active w^ar on the West- 
ern continent, and several months of actual hostilities in 
IS- Europe, war was formally proclaimed by Great Britain, 
and shortly afterward declared by France. 

The " seven years war," so called, dates from this 
period, but to America it was, in fact, a nine years con- 

The derangement of the currency, and the expenses of 
the war, bore heavily on the commercial prosperity of the 
colony. Failures in business became so frequent, that a 

June general act for the relief of insolvent debtors was passed. 
S* The debtor, upon surrendering all his property for the 
satisfaction of his creditors, was thereby released from 
further liability for debts contracted prior to his taking 
the benefit of tlie act. The preparations for war were 
stimulated by the appointment of the Earl of Loudoun, 
and were nowhere more actively pursued than in this 
24 colony. Gen. Winslow asserts in a letter to the governor, 
tliat Rhode Island " comes nearest up to their quota." 
22 The Assembly was convened, by special warrant, to pre- 
vent the exportation of provisions, and military stores, and 
to provide for maintaining the troops expected from Eng- 
land. It was voted to enlist one hundred additional men, 
exclusive of oflicers, to be sent in two companies on the 
expedition against Crown Point. A deputy-commissary^ 
for the forces was appointed to assist Mr. Hopkins. Upon 

^28^ the day of his arrival at New York, Lord Loudoun wrote 

^ William Thurston Gardner. This is the earliest case of the use of a 
middle name noticed on the records. 



to Gov. Hopkins for copies of the votes of the Asseml)ly c;iiat\ 
for raising troops, and of the instructions given to tlieni. 
The activity of the French, and a difficulty in arranging 175(5. 
the terms upon wliicli tlie provincial troops would serve 
with tlie reguhirs under Loudoun, required his immediate 
presence with the army at Albany. The capture of 
Oswego, with a large quantity of military stores by Aug. 
Montcalm, the successor of Dieskau, caused an urgent 
letter from Loudoun to Gjov. Hopkins, asking for more 20. 
troops, and a supply of teams for transport purposes to be 
sent from Rhode Island.' These incessant drams uj^on 
the resources of the colony for the war upon land, did not 
subdue the spirit of naval enter]3rise. Privateers were 
fitted out, as in the former war, and one of them, the Foy, 
of eighteen guns and a hundred and eighty men, was 
placed in command of Capt. Dennis, the hero of Marti- 
nique, who sailed for the Spanish main, his old cruising 22. 
ground, but was never heard from again. 

The letter of the Earl of Loudoun was communicated 23. 
to the Assembly with a message from the go\'ernor, in- 
dicating tlie important subjects that required their delib- 
eration. These were : in what manner the bills of credit 
should be called in and sunk with the money lately re- 
ceived from England ; how the remaining bills should be 
redeemed or made available to preserve the credit of the 
colony ; and how the treasury could be supplied, as the 
Crown Point appropriations Avere exhausted, while the 
exigencies of the war were imperative^ These were mat- 
ters of vast importance, but of which the solution was 
most difhcult. The Crown Point bills were ordered to be 
called in, and two-thirds of them to be redeemed at the 
rate of four pounds for a Spanish dollar, and the other 

^ R. I. Col. Rec. v. 510. 

^ He was the father of Capt. Williani Dennis, who, during the revolu- 
tionary war, in which he commanded thirteen privateers, fully sustained the 
fame of his gallant sire. Bull's Memoir of Rhode Island. 

' R. I. Col. Rec. V. 502. 



CHAP, one-third bj promissory notes of the treasurer, payable at 
the same rate, on or before the close of the next year. 

1756. The war committee was authorized to contract a loan of 
fifty thousand pounds, old tenor, at six per cent., to meet 
which a tax of fifty-three thousand pounds was assessed 
upon the colony. The circulation of the bills of other 
colonies was prohibited. Messengers were dispatched to 
confer with Connecticut and Massachusetts upon the 
threatened advance of the victorious French, and measures 
were taken to provide arms, provisions, and stores for five 
hundred men. A garrison of twenty men, under Lieut. 
Caleb Carr, was placed at Fort George, and a lottery of 
ten thousand pounds was granted, the proceeds to be used 
in repaii'ing the fort. 

Sept While the Assembly was holding an adjourned ses- 
8. sion, the deputy-governor, Jonathan Nichols, died.' Dur- 
ing the funeral, minute guns were fired from the fort. 
John Gardner, who had held the office two years before, 
was elected to fill the vacancy, and retained the post 
through all the changes of party, for eight successive 
years until his death. News of the advance of the French 
army upon Lake George, occasioned a special session of 
the Assembly. It Avas voted to raise four hundred men, 
14. and send them forward with all haste to Albany. The 
list, from which drafts were to be made, included every 
man between sixteen and sixty years of age, excej^t pub- 
lic officers, ministers, and those who made oath or affir- 
mation that it was against their conscience to bear arms. 
The governor was chosen colonel of the regiment.'' Six 
thousand pounds in " lawful money " bills of credit were 
issued to meet the expenses of this new levy. A special 
20. Court of Admiralty, composed of seven commissioners 

' He was the son of Dep. Gov. Jonathan Nichols, who also died while in 
that office, in 1727. 

^ The list of officers for these eight companies is not given, because in 
a few days an order came from the Earl of Loudoun to countermand their 
marching, and they were disbanded. 


from Boston, was convened at Providence for the trial of 
Capt. Joseph Hnglies, for the murder of Micliael Clarke. 
lie was convicted, and sentenced to death. The small-pox 
having broken out among the army at Albany, the As- 27. 
sembly voted to delay the marching of the new regiment, 
till an express could be sent to Lord Loudoun for orders. 
These orders, to withhold the troops, as the season was too 
far advanced for further operations, were already on the 
way, and, upon their reception, the soldiers were dis- 
charged by vote of the Assembly. A. large amount of 
Crown Point bills were burnt at this session. 

The firmness with whi(;h the General Assembly as- 
serted its authority, has before been exemplified in these 
pages. Another case occurred at this time. One Samuel 
Thayer, being accused of applying abusive language to 
that body, was brought before them by warrant, and hav- 
ing confessed the act, was committed to jail in Providence. 

The ill success of this campaign in America, led to a 
change in the British ministry, by which William Pitt 
took the place lately held by Fox as an under Secretary 
of State, of which the usual notice was sent to all the Dec. 7. 
colonies. The Earl of Loudoun proposed a council of 
governors and commissioners to be held at Boston in Jan- 
uary, to arrange the next campaign, and in his letter to 
Gov. Hopkins, desired that the several legislatures might 22. 
be convened at the same time.^ In consequence of this, 
the Assembly met at Providence to appoint and instruct y^"^- 
their commissioners. The governor, with James Ilony- 10.* 
man and George Brown were chosen to attend the coun- 
cil. They were instructed to report to Lord Loudoun 
the exact condition of the colou}^, to request him to repre- 
sent it to the King, and to ask a suitable allowance for 
the military stores furnished in the past year. They were 
also to recommend to his lordship Capt. Walter Chaloner, 
who had held a conniiission in the expedition against 
Cartliagena, as a person deserving of his favor. 

' R. I. Col. Rec. y. o70^ 


CHAP, Loudoun's plan of operations for the coming season, 
^^^^ submitted to tlie Congress at Boston, was chiefly defen- 
1757. sive. An attempt to recover Louisburg was the only ag- 
Jan. gi-essive measure proposed. While the council were 
26. deliberating, a special session of the Assembly was called 
by the deputy -governor, to act upon a letter from Gov. 
Hopkins, relating to the part which Rhode Island was to 
take in the next campaign. This being done, the Assem- 
bly adjourned for a few days to await further action of 
Feb. the council. Private business occupied the week, until 
^- the Congress broke up, when Gov. Hopkins and the other 
7. connnissioners resumed their seats in the Assembly. The 
mode of ascertaining the value of rateable estates was 
revised, with a view to the proper apportionment of 
taxes among the towns. It was resolved to build a sloop 
of war of a hundred and twenty tons to guard the coast,' 
and to raise a force of four hundred and flfty men, in five 
companies, to serve for one year under command of the 
Earl of Loudoun.^ The treasurer was empowered to hire 
sixty thousand pounds, old tenor, for six months, and a 
tax of one hundred thousand pounds was assessed to re- 
deem the loan. The plans of the commander-in-chief 
required that an embargo should be laid on all the north- 
Mar, ern ports. He therefore wrote to Ehode Island, recom- 

^ Obadiah and George Brown, and Joseph Sheldon, were the committee 
to build the vessel, charging nothing for their services. She never went to 
sea, but was ordered to be sold for the benefit of the colony by the As- 
sembly, in December, 1758. 

^ Col. Samuel Angel was chosen to command the regiment, and Dr. 
William Hunter served as surgeon. " Dr. Hunter gave the first course of 
medical lectures ever delivered in America." They were given in 1754, 1765, 
and 1756, and drew many pupils from abroad. Dr. Usher Pardons' speech 
at the Re-union at Newport, Aug. 23, 1859. The other officers were: Cap- 
tains — George Gardner, John Potter, John Whiting, Jeremiah Greene, Daniel 
Wall. 1st Lieutenants — Christopher Hargil, Elkanah Spear, James Tew, jr., 
Giles Russel, Nathaniel Peck. 2d Do. — Isaac Wilbore, Mark Noble, George 
Shearman, Samuel Hearn, Edward Tallbee. Ensigns — Israel Peck, Samuel 
Saunders, Amos Whiting, Geoffrey Wilcox, jr., Abel Gibbs. Christopher 
Nichols was chosen surgeon's mate. 



mending that course, wliicli was adoj^ted. Tlie Assembly CIIAP. 
renewed the garrison at F ort George. Tlie demands of 
the war caused so great a scarcity of military stores, that 1757. 
the lead roofing of the court-house at New]>ort was order- 
ed to be removed and placed in charge of the sheriff for 
the use of the colony. The governor was empowered to 
send out a vessel to defend the coast, in case the enemy 
should appear. The privateer Abercrombie, Capt. Joseph 
Rivers, was hired by the government for this purpose. 
The people in the north part of Westerly, petitioned for 
a division of the town. This was granted, and that por- 
tion of Westerly north of Pawcatuck Kiver was incorpo- 
rated, with the name of Hopkinton. 

At the annual election, the Ward party triumphed in May 4. 
the choice of Gov. William Greene, and seven of the ten 
a-ssistants. But the policy of the government in regard to 
the war, was not affected by the change of officers. The 
new Assembly, in consequence of an appeal from Lord 
Loudoun, voted to raise an additional force of a hundred 
and fifty men to be ready in case of requisition from Major- 
Gen. Webb, then in command at Fort Edward. The at- 
tack on Louisburg was. prevented by the activity of the 
French. A powerful fleet, including seventeen ships of 
the line, sailed from Brest for [N'orth America, five days 3. 
before Admiral Holburne, with twenty ships, carrying ten 
hundred and forty guns, and six thousand troops, left 8. 
Cork for Halifax.' Meanwhile, great preparations were 
made by Loudoun to co-operate with Holburne, and it 
was to prevent the enemy from receiving intelligence of 
the proposed expedition that the embargo had been laid. 
This useless annoyance vexed the colonists. Violations June 
of the embargo were frequent, and are complained of by ^• 
Loudoun in a letter to Rhode Island. The Assembly 13. 
took up the subject, and passed a stringent act, punishing 

' R. Partridge's letter to R. I. of May 19, 1757, contains a list of Ad- 
miral Holburne's fleet. 



CHAP, with imprisonment and forfeiture of the vessel, any who 
..^.^^ should carry on trade with the French West Indies. 
1^^*^- Augustus Johnston was elected attorney -general in 
13. place of Daniel Updike deceased.' The population of 
Prudence Island, an appendage of the town of Ports- 
mouth, had become so large, that in consequence of the 
inconvenience of attending the militia trainings in that 
town, a separate military company for the island was or- 
ganized by the Assembly. Many slaves had been carried 
to sea on privateers and merchant vessels, without consent 
of their owners. To ]_3revent this, a fine of five hundred 
jDOunds was imposed ii^on any captain who should thus 
abduct a slave, and a right of action against the captain 
or owners of the vessel to recover double damages, was 
allowed. Liberty to search any vessel suspected of con- 
cealing slaves was granted by the act. The war vessel 
built for the colony was ordered to be rigged as a brigan- 

The controversy between Samuel Ward and Stephen 
Hopkins, had now progressed beyond the limits of politi- 
cal difference, and become a bitter personal (contest, in 
which the interference of the legislature was invoked. 
Gov. Hopkins brought a suit against Ward for slander, 
laying his damages at twenty thousand pounds. The 
trial was to come on the next week in Providence, where 
Hopkins resided. Ward had petitioned the Assembly in 
May for a change of venue, alleging that the plaintifi^'s 
influence in the county of Providence would preclude an 
impartial trial, and also that his own life had been threat- 
ened by the excited partisans of his opponent. Hopkins 
was served with a copy of the petition, and cited to appear 
at this session, and was required, meanwhile, to stay pro- 
ceedings. He evaded the order by withdrawing his suit, 
and commencing a new one for the same cause. Both 

^ Mr. Updike had served for twenty-four years as Attorney- General of 
the colony— from 1722 to 1732, and from 1743 till his dtath, May 15, 1757. 
He was a fine scholar and a distinguished advocate. 



parties now appeared before the Asseuil)ly, and agreed in cuav. 
writing that the phiintitF would withdraw his action in ii!^ 
Providence, provided the defendant would meet him at 1757. 
Eehoboth, on or before the twenty-third instant, there to 
be arrested, and the action to be tried under the Massa- 
chusetts laws ; the defendant waiving the plea of want 
of jurisdiction. This agreement was allowed, and ap- 
proved by the Assembly.' 

After much delay, the Earl of Loudoun sailed from ''^^ ® 
New York with six thousand troops to join the British 
fleet at Halifax ; but the arrival of the French squadron 
in the harbor of Louisburg, frustrated the plan. Loudoun 
returned to New York too late to prevent the efl'ect of 
his folly ; for no sooner had the expedition sailed, than a 
grand demonstration was planned and executed by the 
energy of Montcalm. This was an attack on the posts July 
near Lake George. The advance of the French army led 
Major-Gen. Webb to call on the colonies for their re- 
serve forces, and a pressing letter Avas sent to Khode 
Island for the hundred and fifty men to march at once to 
the scene of conflict. Fort William Henry was garrisoned 
by two thousand men under Col. Monroe, when Mont- 
calm commenced the siege with an army of eleven thou- Aug. 
sand French and Lidians." No assistance was sent by ^* 
AVebb, who was at Fort Edward, only fourteen miles dis- 
tant, with four thousand men. After a gallant but hope- 
less defence for six days, Monroe surrendered with the 9. 
honors of war. The alarm occasioned by this disaster, 

^ Hopkins commenced his action on June 20,' 1757, at the Common Pleas 
in Worcester, Mass. The writ was served at Rehoboth in August, and a 
bond for £5,000, the amount of damages Uiid in the writ, was taken of 
Ward. The case was tried in September, and verdict given for the defend- 
ant. Hopkins appealed to the Superior Court, to meet at Worcester the 
same month. The case was continued, and meanwhile submitted to a 
reference, and at the end of two years, in September, 1759, was finally with- 
drawn, Hopkins paying the costs of suit, taxed at £22 13s. 9c?., for which 
sum execution was issued September 13, 1760. A report of this case is 
given in the Monthly Law Reporter for October, 1859, vol. 22, pp. 327-39. 

- Capt, Christie's letter of August 5, 1757. 



CHAP, was intense tlirono^liont tlie colonies. Before the result 

^^^^ was known in Rhode Island, the Assembly had been con- 
1757. vened in consequence of advices from the seat of war. 
One-sixth part of the entire militia of the colony were or- 
dered to be drafted for the service, and to rendezvous at 
Providence and Kingstown within one week, thence to 
proceed on horseback to Albany. They were to form one 
regiment, for which officers were appointed.' The treas- 
urer was authorized to make a loan for this object, and 
the governor and council were empowered to raise yet 
more troops in case they should he called for by Major- 
Gen. Webb, during the recess of the Assembly. But 
Montcalm, instead of following up his success as was ex- 
pected, withdrew^ with his army into Canada. The colo- 
nial forces were placed on the winter establishment. The 
larger number were dismissed, and a corps of rangers was 
Sept. 0Yg2imzed for winter service. The quota assigned to 
7. Bhode Island, by order of the Earl of Loudoun, was 
■^^g ninety men. The Assembly voted to retain seventy men 
in the service, and to send transports to Albany to bring 
back the remainder of the soldiers. Flags of truce were 
equipped to convey away the French prisoners, and the 
masters of such vessels were required to give bonds to the 
amount of a thousand pounds sterling, not to take any 
merchandise under cover of their flags. A tax of a hun- 
dred and fifty thousand pounds, old tenor, was assessed, 
one-fifth of which was appointed to Newport. 
9 Lord Loudoun was incensed that the Assembly had 
voted to retain but seventy rangers instead of ninety, as 
he had demanded, and wrote a sharp letter on the subject, 
wherein he forgot his own proposition, and states the re- 
quired quota to be one hundred men. The letter, although 
unjust in its charges, and insulting in its tone, had the 
desired effect upon the Assembly, who, at their next ses- 
26. sion, voted thirty additional men for the ranger's corps, 

^ These were, John Andrews, Colonel ; Joseph Wanton, jr., Lieut. -Col. ; 
Henry Babcock, 2d Lieut.-Col., and Stephen Potter, Major. 



and also resolved to re-enlist two hundred and fifty of the chap. 


returning troops, to be billeted on the colony ready for 
any emergency. The regiment so expeditiously raised in 1757. 
August, had proceeded some distance into Connecticut 
when it was recalled, and })rovision for the payment of 
the men was now made. A tax of four thousand pounds 
in "lawful money " bills, emitted early in the previous 
year, was assessed in order to call in those bills. An idea 
of the value of the old tenor bills may be formed from a 
scale adopted at this session in the payment for provisions 
furnished to the troops. Pork was valued at six shillings 
and sixpence a pound, dried beef and cheese at six shil- 
lings, and hams at eight shillings. A memorial was 
presented from merchants in Providence, setting forth 
that a large number of private men-of-war were owned in 
the colony, and that there were no adecpiate means of con- 
demning .prizes, no judge of Vice- Admiralty residing in 
the colony, but only a deputy, Avhose acts were controlled 
by his superior who lived elsewhere, and praying, as a 
remedy for the inconveniences and expenses thereby re- 
sulting, that application be made to the colony's agent in 
England, for some suitable person to be appointed Judge 
of the Court of Yice- Admiralty, w^ithin and for this 
colony. The governor w^as requested to prepare the let- 
ter, and to recommend Col. John Andrews for the place,' 
and also to inform the Earl of Loudoun of the action of 
the Assembly in regard to the quota of rangers, and the 
additional two hundred and fifty men retained in the 

The letter of Gov. Greene to Lord Loudoun, chanored ^^t. 
the tone of the Earl's communications. In his reply he 
compliments the colony more highly for its public spirit, ^^ov. 
than he had before abused it for the partial neglect of his 
comu lands, and promises to represent its zeal and loyalty 

' John Andrews, Esq., received the appointment of Judge of the Ad- 
miralty Court of the colony of Rhode Island, by order of the Admiralty 
Commissioners, May 12, 1758. 

VOL. II. — 50 



CHAP, ill the highest terms to the King. He retained but ninety 
^5^^^ Khode Ishmd troops, who were quartered at Saratoga, 

1757. and sent the remainder home. 

The ill-success of the war up to this time, exasperated 
the English people, and compelled a change in the minis- 
tiy. Pitt, who early in the year had lost his place in the 
cabinet, was recalled and given a higher position as Sec- 
retary of State, where, under the nominal leadership of 
^s^ewcastle, he soon became the virtual premier, and as- 
sumed the whole conduct of the war. More vigorous 
Dec. measures w^ere now taken against the French. A circu- 
lar was sent to all the colonies, calling on them to raise 
twenty thousand men, who should be equipped by the 
home government, and promising assistance from Parlia- 
ment towards their payment. The Earl of Loudoun was 
superseded by Major-Gen. Abercronibie in the chief com- 

1758. Another annual council of war was called by Lord 
^j^' Loudoun to meet at Hartford. The Assembly appointed 

the governor, with Col. John Andrews, and Samuel Ward 
to attend it, and added to the instructions of the previous 
year the request that the Rhode Island levies might be 
under the command of their own officers, subject only to 
the general-in-chief. The value of the Spanish milled 
dollar was fixed at six shillings, lawful money, — the rate 
at which the latter description of bills were issued, and 
wdiich was the standard value in other New England col- 
onies. The Xew England currency of six shillings to a 
dollar, that has ever since prevailed, may be dated from 
this period. The daily royal allowance for tlie support 
of recruits was fourpence sterling, an insufficient amount. 
To oblige the inhabitants to entertain recruits, the Assem- 
bly added a w^eekly stipend of three pounds four shillings, 
old tenor, to be paid from the treasury, and empowered 
the civil officers to billet the troops upon innkeepers and 
others at their discretion. 
20. The results of the council at Hartford were of no im- 



portance, for Loudoun's recall was already on its way, CHAP, 
and the conduct of the war had passed into more vigorous 
hands at home. The severe illness of Gov. Greene, which 1758. 
had prevented his attendance upon the Assembly, ter- 
minated in death. Only eighteen years had passed since 
a governor had died in office, and he was now the eighth 
wdio had thus fallen at his post since the settlement of the 
colony. His career had been long and active, embracing 
some of the most stormy periods in Rhode Island annals.' 
He left a son named for him, who, twenty years later, 
was to occupy his father's place, and like him to transmit 
an honored name to a numerous posterity. The Assem- March 
bly re-elected Gov. Hopkins to fill the vacancy, who con- 
tinned for four years successively to be chosen by the 
people. The most energetic measures were taken to 
prosecute the war. It was resolved to raise a regiment 
of one thousand men, and officers were appointed for it, 
no officer to receive his commission until he had enlisted 
a certain number of men."^ The treasurer was directed to 
hire specie, or lawful money bills, at six per cent, interest, 
and to give bonds for the same, payable at the close of 
the next year in silver, or in old tenor bills at the rate of 

' He was for two years deputy governor — in 1741-2, and for eleven 
years governor of the colony — in 1743, '44, '46, '48 to '55, and 1757. 

^ The officers already in the service were retained. The new ones ap- 
pointed for the ten companies were as follows: Godfrey Malbone, Colonel; 
Henry Babcock, Lieut.-Col. ; Daniel Wall, Mnjor. Col. Malbone declined, 
and at the May session Lieut.-Col. Babcock was made Colonel; John Pot- 
ter, jr., Lieut.-Col.; Joseph Coggeshall, commissary; John Bass, chaplain 
and surgeon's mate. The new company officers chosen at this (March) 
session were : Captains — Ebenezer Jenckes of the 5th ; James Tew, jr., of 
the 6th ; Samuel Rose of the 7th ; Nathaniel Peck of the 8th ; who had been 
lieutenants in the former campaign. 1st Lieutenants — Benjamin Eddy of 
the 5th ; Valentine Morse, 6th ; William Tripp, 7th ; Joshua Allen, 8th ; Ed- 
ward Smith, 9th. 2d Lieutenants — Moses Palmer of the 1st ; Thomas Park, 
2d ; Philip Baker, 3d ; Samuel Stoneman, 4th ; George Shearman, 5th ; Abner 
West, 6th ; Oliver Reynolds, 7th. Ensigns — Eseck Carr, 1st ; Mitchel Case, 
2d; Nathaniel Bowdish, 3d; Tamberlin Campbell, 4th ; Richard Smith, jr., 
6th ; Thomas Tew, 6th ; Caleb Tripp, 7th ; Thomas Rose, 8th ; Thomas 
Aylesworth, 9th. Lieut. Giles Russel was made adjutant. 



criAP. five pounds ten shillincys to a dollar. If nnable to neo-o- 

WII . T . . . 

tiate a sufficient loan within twenty-five days, a new issue 
1758. of lawful bills to the amount of four thousand pounds was 

'"^^ to be made, redeemable within two years by taxation; 
but at the next session the sum was increased to ten 
thousand pounds, bearing five per cent, interest, and the 
time of payment extended to five years. Ten thousand 
pounds were appropriated to the work on Fort George, 

15. and the garrison was increased. Orders were sent from 
Gen. Abercrombie requiring an embargo to be laid on all 
the colonial ports, which was forthwith done by vote of 
the Assembly. The legislature of Connecticut proposed 
April ^ convention to be held at Hartford to arrange the quotas 

19. of men and supplies to be furnished by each colony, ac- 
cording to the plan of Pitt, but no action appears to have 
Mays, been taken on the subject. The Assembly repealed the 
act of the past year forbidding trade with the Spanish set- 
tlement at Ilispaniola, as no such restriction existed in the 
other colonies. A protest against this repeal was entered 
by nine members on the ground that Monte Christo, the 
-port in question, was an inconsiderable place, while the 
French Fort Dolphin, very near it, would conduct the ac- 

8. tual traffic. As soon as the fleet had sailed, Abercrombie 
wrote to remove the embargo at the end of two weeks, 

15, and a few days later he ordered the Rhode Island regiment 
to be sent forward to Albany. The plan of the campaign 
was similar to that which, under General Shirley, had 
proved abortive. To reconquer Cape Breton, to drive 
the French from Lake George and Fort Du Quesne, with 
an invasion of Canada as the ultimate blow, was the de- 
sign of the ministry. The first measure was successful. 
A fleet of thirty-seven ships of war, under Admiral Bos- 
cawen, with an army of ten thousand men under Gen. 
Amherst, with whom Wolfe acted as brigadier, and Mont- 
gomery and Barre, names destined to win impei-ishable 
June ^^^s^'^® ^^^^^ wsLY^ were subalterns, laid siege to Lonisburg. 

8. Three thousand men and eleven ships of war defended the 




place, but tlie works were out of repair, tlie ships were CHAP 
cut off in detail, and after a gallant defence of seven 
weeks, Louisburg surrendered. With it Cape Breton, i 
Prince Edward, and other dependencies, passed forever 
from tlie power of France, and tlie Gulf of St. Lawrence 
became henceforth a British possession. 

The expenses of the war bore heavily on the people. 
Nearly two thousand British troops were quartered at 
Providence in March and April, before the expedition 
under Amherst had sailed, while the cost of sustaining 
tlie native regiment, raised for the land service, was 
enormous. To meet the war loans and to redeem the "^^^"^ 
colonial paper, the Assembly assessed a tax of six thou- 
sand pounds in lawful money bills, thus calling in the 
issue of two years before, and laid a further tax of one 
hundred and ten thousand pounds, old tenor.' Newport 
had long been a thriving commercial town, but until now 
had no permanent newspaper published within it. The 
Newport Mercury was established at this time, and the 
first number was issued on the day the Assembly com- 
menced its session. It has continued to the present time 
without interruption, e-xcept during the British occupa- 
tion of the island,'^ and is now one of the oldest, if not the 
oldest existing newspaj)er in the country. The second 
object of the ministry, undertaken simultaneously with 
the siege of Louisburg, resulted in disaster. Abercrom- j^^iy 
bie, with an army of fifteen thousand men, embarked at 5- 
Fort William Henry in flatboats, to attack Ticonderoga, 

^ The tax bill of this session arranges the towns by their respective coun- 
ties. The town of Newport paid one-fifth of the entire tax. Newport 
county paid £42,350 ; Providence county, £26,400 ; Kings (now Washing- 
ton), £24,100; Kent, £11,550, and Bristol, £5,600. The lesser tax of 
£6,000 was apportioned in the same ratio. 

^ This interruption lasted about three years, from Dec. 2, 17*76, to Jan. 
5, 1780, during which time the Mercury was printed in Rehoboth, where it 
continued to divide with the Providence Gazette the patronage of the public 
printing from the Rhode Island General Assembly. Providence Gazette, 
March 6, 1779. 



CHAP, at the outlet of Lake Georo^e. The next mornino- the 
^^^^^ French out|)osts were driven in, and in the afternoon an 
1758. engagement ensned, in which the French were defeated, 
'^g^^ out tlie young Lord Howe, the idol of the army, was slain. 
8. On the eighth, Abercronibie, without waiting for his ar- 
tillery, ordered the assault. Ticonderoga was garrisoned 
by only thirty-six hundred men, but the defences were 
strong and the braye Montcalm was the connnander. 
The regulars led the attack, followed by the New York 
provincials. The Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode 
Island regiments were di'awn up three hundred yards in 
the rear, prepared to support the assailants. The storm- 
ing party were repulsed, and column after colunm ad- 
vancing to their support, were mowed down by the terrific 
fire of the French. The carnage was innnense. At the 
end of the first hour the reserve was ordered up. Col. 
Babcock, receiving a wound in his knee while posting 
his regiment within forty yards of the breastwork, was 
borne from the field. Three of his ofiicers' were also 
wounded. The battle lasted four hours, when Abercroni- 
bie, having lost two thousand men in killed and wounded, 
ordered a retreat, and the next day, to the surprise and 
^- mortification of his officers, fell back upon Fort William 
Henry.'' This defeat cost him his command. He was 
soon afterward superseded by Gen. Andierst.'^ 
Aug. Desertions from the army were frequent. The Assem- 
bly requested the governor to issue a proclamation upon 
the subject. Deserters were required to report themselves 
to the war committee within ten days, to be sent back to 
the army, in which case they should be recommended to 
mercy. Rewards Avere offered for their detection, and 

^ Capt. John Whiting and Lieuts. Russell and Smith. 
A graphic account of this battle is given by Col. Babcock in his de- 
spatch to Gov. Hopkins, July 10, 1758. Unfortunately the list of killed 
and wounded in his regiment, accompanying the lettej", is lost. 

^ Orders to this effect were issued from Whitehall September 18. — Pitt's 
Circular to the Colonies. 



penalties imposed upon anj wlio miglit conceal them. A CIIap. 
singular clause in the act illustrates a custom of the 
times. The expenses of arresting a deserter were to be 1758. 
deducted from his wages, and in case " there is not enough 
due to a deserter to pay such 2)i'eniium, he shall he sold 
by one of the committee of war for payment thereof, and 
stand connnitted to gaol until he is sold." A new war 
loan was recpiired, and the treasurer was authorized to hire 
as many of the lawful money bills of credit as ])0ssible, 
not exceeding in value one hundred and fifty thousand 
pounds, old tenor, for one year at six per cent. It was 
found that the light-house duty on shipping was insuffi- 
cient. It was therefore increased to fifteenpence sterling 
on coasting vessels, and to twopence sterling per ton on 
all other vessels. 

The expedition against Fort Frontenac, now Kings- 
ton, designed by Col. Bradstreet, was carried out with 
great success, and did much to retrieve the disaster at 
Ticonderoga. About three thousand provincials, with 
four brass twelve-pounders and two howitzers, marched for 1^- 
Oswego. In this army were some comj^anies, three hun- 
dred and twelve men, of the Rhode Island regiment, 
under Major Wall. Embarking in open boats on Lake 
Ontario, Bradstreet landed on an island in sight of Fort 25. 
Frontenac, and proceeded to reconnoitre. At seven 
o'clock in the evening, the whole force landed, unopposed, 
within a mile of the fort. At ten the next morning the 
cannonade commenced, at seven hundred yards' distance, 26. 
and continued till night, when the Americans secured a 
breastwork nearer the fort, from which, at daybreak, they 
threw shells, and soon obliged the garrison to surrender. 
Nine armed vessels and a great cpiantity of military stores, 27. 
valued at forty thousand pounds sterling, destined for 
Fort Du Quesne, were taken. The fort was destroyed, 
and the victors returned to Oswego the next day.' The 28. 

^ Letter of Major Daniel Wall to Gov. Hopkins, dated Oneida Station, 
17th September, 1758. 



CHAP, loss of the Americans in the action was slight, but many 
suffered from sickness on the homeward march, and while 

1758. detained at tlie site of the present village of Rome, in 
erecting Fort Stanwix. The fall of Fort Frontenac in- 
sured the capture of Fort Du Quesne by cutting off the 
supplies and causing the desertion of the Indian allies. 
That expedition was under the command of Gen. Forbes, 

Sept. with seven thousand men. Advanced detachments of his 
army had repeated conflicts with the enemy with varied 
15.* success. The attempt was about to be abandoned for the 

Nov. season, when the arrest of some prisoners made known the 
weakness of the garrison. A portion of the army pressed 
forward, under the lead of Washington, and found the 
25. fort deserted and the works destroyed. Hugh Mercer, 
with two regiments of Virginians, were left to maintain 
the position. The place was called Fort Pitt in honor of 
the energetic minister. The populous city of Pittsburg 
is now the noblest monument to his fame. 

Oct. Tlie war loan authorized in August, seems not to have 
been contracted as yet, for the Assembly now instructed 
the treasurer to hire, in sj^ecie or bills of credit, a sum not 
to exceed two hundred thousand pounds, old tenor, and if 
the entire loan was not effected in thirty days, the defi- 
ciency was to be met by tlie issue of lawful money bills, 
redeemable in five years. The loan and the issue were to 
be redeemed by a tax on the colony. 

The plans of Pitt for the next campaign required the 
same force, twenty thousand men, to be raised in the colo- 
Dec. 9. nies, and circulars to that effect were sent from Whitehall. 
13. Gen. Amherst recommended that the provincial troops 
be retained in the service through the winter, to be ready 
18. early in the spring. The Assembly accordingly resolved 
to retain all the effective troops in their pay, discharging 
only the higher officers, and to enlist new soldiers who 
were to have the same wages and billeting as the retained 
troops. The report of a committee upon flags of truce, 
made at this session, shows that ten had been granted and 



used within two years, besides some applications for tliem CITAP. 
that were refused by the governor. The law upon this 
subject' was revised, to require that every flag of truce 1758. 
sailing from the colony should carry all the prisoners of 
war then here, if the vessels were capable of doing so, at 
the rate of a man for every ton of measurement. The 
destruction of the court-house in Providence by iire, was Dec. 
a serious calamity at this time, involving not only the 
expense of a new one, but also the loss of the entire col- 
lection of what afterwards became the Providence Library 
Company, whose books w^ere kept in a chamber of the 
building. A lottery, to raise two thousand dollars, one- 
half towards rebuilding the court-house, and the other for 
the library, was granted the next June.'^ 

Khode Island was relied upon, not without reason, to 1759. 
furnish something more than her share of seamen for the 
royal navy wdienever a deficiency in that branch of the 
service called for recruits. A colony in which nearly one- 
fifth of the adult male population were at this time en- 
gaged on board of private armed ships, while more than 
one-seventh of the remainder were in the land service of 
the King, might be expected to furnish fighting men, 
especially on their favorite element. The commander of 
the fleet had long been accustomed to maintain a corre- 
spondence with this colony. Admiral Durell Avrote from Feb. 
Halifax for as many able-bodied seamen as could be fur- 
nished, and at a later date expressed his thanks for the Sept. 
force so promptly sent. Gen. Amherst wrote to order the 
regiment to be at Albany by the tenth of April The iq ' 
Assembly voted to furnish one thousand men, as last 26. 
year, in thirteen companies, to be ready to leave by the 

^ Passed February, 1747. 

^ This act was repealed in February, 1760, and new grants were made 
of lotteries to raise $1,200 for the library, and $1,000 for the court-house. 
At the same session a lottery was granted to raise £24,000, old tenor, to 
erect the market-house in Newport. 



CHAP, twenty-fifth of March.' Sixteen thousand pounds in 
lawful money bills were appropriated for this object, and 

1759. a tax of eleven thousand pounds of the same currency was 
assessed, payable in October. The outstanding bills, 
known as the Crown Point money, were called in, and 
their redemption provided for out of the billeting money, 
amounting to six hundred pounds sterling, received from 
Gen. Amherst. Something over a hundred and twenty 
thousand pounds, in old tenor bills, which had been called 
in from time to time, were destroyed. The allowance 
made to innkeepers for billeting regular soldiers, was in- 
creased to twenty-five shillings a day, and a fine was im- 
posed upon all who should refuse to entertain such soldiers 
when properly placed in their charge. The growth of 
Providence led the Assembly to pass two important acts ; 
the first related to fires, and gave authority to blow up 
buildings if necessary to stop the progress of the fiames, 
and also to elect, at annual town meetings, three " Presi- 
dents of Firewards," whose powers and duties were fully 
defined in the act. The second divided the town, setting 
off the western part, and incorporating it as the town of 
Johnston, so named in honor of the attorney-general of 
the colony. 

^ Henry Babcock, Col.; Daniel Wall, Lieut.-Col. ; John Whiting, Major. 
Three of the companies were to be led by the field-officers. Most of the 
former officers remained in the service, and were now promoted, one, and 
a few of them, two grades. Only the names of the new ones who now ap- 
pear for the first time in arms are here subjoined : — Captain, Thomas Fry, 
jr. ; 1st Lieutenants, Tibbitts Hopkins, William Sheehan, Jonathan Spear, 
Thomas Jenckins; 2d Lieutenants, Joseph Stanton, jr., Benjamin Carr, 
Daniel Byrn, Moses Bowdish, Moses Warren, Solomon Roflfey, Samuel Wat- 
son, jr., Thomas Collins, Samuel Weatherby, William Pulling ; Ensigns, 
William Bennet, Stukely Stafford, Thomas Swineburne, jr., Arthur Tenner, 
jr., George Cornel, Reeorde Tabor, Nathan Rice, Asa Bowdish, Asa Kim- 
ball, John Manchester, John Beverley, Nathan Bliven, Peleg Slocum. 

Lieutenant Giles Russel, adjutant; Joseph Hollway, commissary; Thos. 
Rodman, surgeon ; Benjamin Brown and Thomas Monroe, surgeon's mates. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Wall did not join the regiment, and was cashiered by the 
Assembly in August. 



The hast letter that the colony ever received from its CIIA 

now venerable agent, Eichard Partridge, who for thirty- ^ ^ 

four years had guarded its interests near the home govern- 175 
ment, was w^ritten, while on his death-bed, to recommend ^^'^ 
his successor, like himself a member of the society of 
Friends, and whom he had named as one of his exec- 

The application of Admiral Durell was acted upon by May 
the Assembly, and inducements were offered for seamen 
to enlist. Those thus entering the naval service were to 
be accounted part of the one thousand men ordered for the 
campaign, the regiment not being yet quite full. Ten 
thousand pounds were appropriated for Fort George, and 
the treasurer was directed to hire the money at six per 
cent, interest. A letter from Joseph Sherwood announced H 
the death of Partridge, and his own course, as executor, 
in regard to the colonial business. The accounts of Ehode 
Island had been sent to Partridge, and presented by Sher- 
wood with a petition for their allowance. Pitt, whose 
power was supreme, obtained an appropriation of two 
hundred thousand pounds sterling from Parliament, to be 
divided among the colonies for their expenses in the last 
campaign. The stimulus thus given to renewed exertion, 
was felt in the rapid enlistments that were everywhere 
made. The Ehode Island regiment still wanted a hun- June 
dred and fifteen men to complete its ranks. The Assem- 
bly took vigorous measures to supply the deficiency, and 
sent forward the men to join the other troops at Albany. 
The Masonic society in Newport w^as incorporated at this 
time with the title of The Master Wardens, and Society 
of Free and Accepted Masons." A lottery for raising 
twenty-four hundred dollars was granted them to erect 
the Mason's Hall, and the first public celebration of the 
Order tliat was ever held in Ehode Island, took place this 
year, with religious services at Trinity church. The As- 
sembly had heretofore met in the three counties of Provi- 
dence, Newport, and Kings. An annual adjournment to 



CHAP. Kent, in turn from the other counties, was now estab- 
^ lished. 

1759. The object of the present campaign, was the conquest 
June Canada. Its success was complete, although not with- 
out severe losses on both sides. Admiral Saunders, with a 
powerful fleet conveying an army of eight thousand men 

26. under Gen. Wolfe, appeared before Quebec. Gen. Am- 
herst, with twelve thousand troops, was to take Ticonde- 
roga and Ci-own Point, and thence to advance by way of 
Lake Champlain to co-operate with Wolfe ; while a pro- 
vincial army under Gen. Prideaux was to attack Niagara, 
and thence to enter Canada by way of Lake Ontario. 
Tlie latter expedition came first in order of time. Prideaux 
July 7. was killed at the opening of the siege, and Sir AVilliam 
Johnson, who was present with a large body of the Six 
Nations, assumed the command. A strong force of French 
and Lidians, advancing from the west to the relief of 

23 Niagara, was routed by Johnson, and the greater part 
were made prisoners. All hope of aid being thus cut oft', 

25. the garrison, consisting of six hundred men, surrendered. 

Encumbered by his prisoners, and without the neces- 
sary transports or supplies, Johnson was unable to carry 
out the plan of invading Canada. The army under Am- 
herst was composed of about equal numbers of regulars 
and provincials. The strong positions around Lake 
George were held by feeble garrisons, the main body of 
the enemy being drawn oft" for the defence of Quebec. 

26. Ticonderoga was abandoned ahuost without a blow, and 
Aug. Crown Point was likewise deserted. Ample time was 

thus afforded to Amherst to execute the remainder of the 
plan, and so to secure the conquest of Canada. Although 
there were no vessels upon Lake Cliamplain to convey the 
army, the march upon Montreal could have been accom- 
plished by land in less time than was wasted in repairing 
Ticonderoga, and in constructing useless fortifications at 
Crown Point. Meanwhile, Wolfe was conducting the 
siege of Quebec under great disadvantages. Tlie watch- 



ful eye of Montcalm was ready to detect tlie slii^litest 
error of his enemy, and his fertility of resource was sug- 
gesting means of delay that might prolong the siege till l'^'^'-^- 
winter should close the river and place the hostile fleet at 
his disposal. After two months of anxious suspense, daily 
but vainly hoping to receive aid from the side of IN^ew 
York, and constantly engaged in active operations with 
the enemy, Wolfe resolved to scale the almost inaccessi- 
ble heights at a short distance above the city, and there, 
on the Plains of Abraham, to decide, in a pitched battle, 
the fortunes of an empire. The landing was elFected Se])t. 
under cover of the night. Jutting rocks and tangled 
thickets aided the men, one by one, in their daring climb 
up the side of the precipitous cliff. In the morning, to 
the dismay of Montcalm, the whole British army were 
there, drawn up in battle array before the city. A brief 13. 
but bloody conflict ensued. The armies each numbered 
about five thousand men. Wolfe, wounded at the com- 
mencement of the action, and again soon after, still led 
the last charge of the British right wing against the 
columns of Montcalm, and was slain. " Now, God be 
praised, I die happy,'' were his last words, as, when borne 
to the rear, he was told that the French were in full re- 
treat. Their gallant leader shared the same fate. Twice 
mortally wounded, he fell while rallying his beaten troops 
at the gate of the city, and died commending to De Ram- 
say, the chief of the garrison, the honor of France." 
Thus fell two of the most gifted and accomplished soldiers 
wdio ever lived. Brave, generous, and loyal, history re- 
cords no nobler names than those of Wolfe and Montcalm. 
The loss of the French was five hundred killed and one 
thousand taken prisoners, that of the English, six hundred 
in killed and wounded. Five days after the battle, Quebec 18. 
capitulated. A garrison of five thousand men under Gen. 
Murray was left to hold the place, and the fleet withdrew 
to winter at Halifax. 

While these stirring events were in progress abroad, 



CHAP, iiothino; of interest occnrred witliiii the colony. The old 


^^2^ I'^w forbidding the purchase of Indian lands, intended to 
1759. protect the aboriginal proprietors in their rights, was re- 
pealed upon petition of Thomas Ninegret, and permission 
was given to him and all other Indians to dispose of their 
real estate on equal terms with other subjects of the 
King.' A large amount of old tenor bills were burnt. 
Joseph Sherwood was connnissioned as agent of the colony 
in England. William Mumford was chosen captain, and 
John Beard lieutenant of Fort George. 

Great was the joy in America at the capture of Que- 
Oct. bee. The Assend)ly appointed a day of public tlianks- 
giving to be held the next month. This was their only 
act of general interest except to forbid the importation of 
raw hides from Xorth Carolina, on account of a murrain 
among the cattle in that province. 

When the news reached England, a royal proclamation 
13. was issued, appointing a day of public thanksgiving 
throughout Great Britain, and ordering the colonies to do 
22. the same. This liad already been done in Rhode Island. 
Everywhere bonfires, illuminations, orations, and the 
voices of prayer and praise, had attested the general joy 
at this brilliant close of a great campaign. The royal ap- 
probation at the conduct of the colonies was expressed 
Dec. through Gen. Andierst, wdio, in his letter to Rhode Island, 
13. complimented Col. Babcock in the warmest terms, and 
requested that the government would again retain the 
whole regiment in pay during the w^inter, and would also 
continue the pay of the officers, but the troops had al- 
ready been disbanded. 

To complete the reduction of Canada, and if possible 

^ This act was repealed upon petition of the tribe, August, 1763, and 
a committee was appointed to set off and bound the various tracts of land 
heretofore appropriated to the Narraganset Sachems, for the sole use of the 
tribe, Ninegret agreeing to execute proper deeds of the same to the tribe ; 
but the tribe could not agree among themselves what lands should be set 
off, so that the committee could do nothing, and reported accordingly in 
June, 1764. 



to drive tlie French from every part of tlie continent, was chap. 
reserved for a new campaign. The iisnal circnlar to the 
colonies stimulated their zeal with the promise of Parlia- 17G0. 
mentary bounty. The appropriation made for them in 
the previous year, of which the part assigned to lihode 
Island was about eighty-eight hundred pounds sterling, 
could not be paid immediately. It was proposed to fund 
the whole amount in a government stock, bearing four per 
cent, interest, to which the provincial agents were invited 
to subscribe the amounts due to their respective colonies. 
Sherwood notified Ehode Island that he had entered her 
name on the sul)scription, as this seemed the best course, 
and that the stock would be paid off in a few months. 
Again the Assembly voted to raise a regiment of one 
thousand men for the next campaign.' To supply money 
to carry this act into effect, an issue of lawful money bills 
to the amount of sixteen thousand pounds, payable in five 
years, and bearing five per cent, interest, was made, to be 
redeemed at maturity by taxation ; and to meet the pay- 
ments that Avould be due to the soldiers at the close of the 
campaign, an immediate tax of fifteen thousand five hun- 
dred and forty-seven pounds, lawful money, to be collect- 
ed in October, was assessed. No allowance for the war 
expenses of 1756 had ever been made to Khode Island by 
the home government, although some of the other colo- 
nies, more fortunate in this respect, had received their 
indemnity. The accounts had not been forwarded to 
England in season, but were afterward sent out. The 
amount, for which Sherwood now petitioned, was forty- Mar. 
two hundred and twelve pounds sterling, but it was never l*^- 
allowed. Parliament appropriated the same amount as 31, 

^ The field-officers appointed were Christopher Harris, colonel ; John 
Whiting, lieutenant-colonel; Thomas Burket, major. The company officers 
differed but little from those of last year. The new ones were, of the 1st 
Lieutenants — Jeremiah Shaw, jr. ; 2d Lieutenants — William Eldred ; Ensigns 
—James Pearse, Edward Cross, Othniel Tripp, Thomas Mitchell. 

Lieutenant Stoneman was chosen adjutant, Thomas Rodman, surgeon. 



CHAP, last year to the colonies for " expenses incurred by tliem 
^^^Jl^ in levying, clothing, and pay of the troops raised by 
17G0. them," and Sherwood advised this colony that in making 
'^19*^^ np their account, care should be taken to distinguish the 
charges so specified in the vote. The supplies voted in 
March for the treasury were found to be insufficient for 
tlie despatch of the regiment. A further issue of ten tliou- 
May 7. sand pounds, Lawful money bills, was ordered to be made 
on simihir terms for this object, and also one thousand 
pounds toward the court-house in Providence. 

Thus far this "lawful money " had been but sparingly 
issued, and pi-o vision for its redemption by taxation was 
always made Avith each new issue. The receipt of specie 
from England at various times, had also tended to pre- 
serve this latest style of bills of credit from the deprecia- 
tion that had affected the old bank bills, now called tlie 
old tenor, and also the new tenor, and Crown Point paper. 
Within the past year the issues of lawful money bills had 
largely increased, tlie time for its redemption had been 
lengthened, and thus the colony were accumulating a 
debt which the stormy j^eriod soon to commence would 
prevent their extinguishing. Depreciation in values, and 
a commercial revulsion, were inevitable in the not distant 
future. An attempt had been made in October, to settle 
u]) the Paper Money Office, created at the time of the 
early bank issues, and a large amount of the uncollected 
bonds given for those loans were put in suit ; while a yet 
larger amount, which already had been sued, were re- 
ported as worthless. The " bank system " had utterly 
failed, and given place to the later method of paper 
issues. AVe have seen how this later paper had depre- 
ciated, until the greater caution adopted with the lawful 
money bills arrested the fall, and had thus far preserved 
this newest form of paper money at its par value ; but 
any relaxation of caution w^as liable to produce renewed 
disaster. The British government stock was very soon 
redeemed, and the portion due to Khode Island, which, 



after deducting many charges and ex})enses, amounted to CUW- 

eight thousand pounds sterling, was sliipped in Spanish 

dollars and Portuguese gold. The value of old tenor 17<;<). 

bills at this time, was fixed by the Assembly at six '^'^'^^ 

pounds for one dollar. 

A court of commissioners was holden at ]^ewport, for Jnly 

the trial of two men, who Avere convicted of piracy and 

robberv on the liii^h seas, and were soon afterwards exe- Aug. 


cuted on Easton's Beach. 

Heretofore the freemen from all parts of the colony 
had been accustomed to deposit their votes in person at 
Xew]3ort on the day of election for general officers in 
May. The old law permitted proxy voting, but the cus- 
tom had fallen into disuse. The Assembly now enacted 18. 
that the freemen should dej^osit their proxy votes for 
general officers at the regular town meetings on the third 
Wednesday in April, and that none but members of the 
Assembly should be permitted to vote at the election in 
^^"ewport on the first Wednesday of May. The qualifica- 
tion for a freeman w^as also prescribed. He was to own 
real estate to the value of forty pounds, lawful money, 
equal to a hundred and thirty-three and one-third dollars, 
or that would bring an annual rent of two pounds. The 
eldest son of such freeman might also vote in right of his 
father's freehold. 

The events of the w^ar are soon told. In April, De April. 
Levi, the successor of Montcalm, with ten thousand men, 
marched from Montreal to recover Quebec. Murray 
rashly gave him battle at Sillery, and was defeated. De 28. 
Levi then laid siege to the city, but the timely arrival of 
a portion of the British fleet compelled him to abandon -^^^ 
the attempt. The capture of Montreal was all that re- 
mained to complete the conquest of Canada. Three Brit- 
ish armies concentrated upon the town for this pur})ose. 
The main army under Gen. Amherst, ten thousand strong, 

rendezvoused at Osweo^o, and thence descended the Lake o ^ 
^ cept. 
Ontario and river St. Lawrence to Montreal, where 7. 

VOL. II. — 51 



CHAP. Murray, with four thousand men, ascending tlie river 
from Quebec, had ah-eady arrived. The next day CoL 

1700. Haviland, with thirty -five hundred men, advancing from 
Crown Point by way of Lake Champlain, also appeared. 
An open town, in a country that for four years had been 
on the verge of famine could make no stand against this 
overwhelming force. Montreal was surrendered without 
a struggle, and with it all western Canada, including 
Michigan. There remained to France upon the western 
continent only a feeble colony at the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi. But there were many who foresaw in the annexa- 
tion of Canada the independence of America. 

The sudden death of George II. was followed the next 
26. day by the proclamation of his grandson as George III. 
A new reign had commenced, the longest and the most 
eventful in English annals. A new policy was shortly to 
be inaugurated, the most fatal to the cause of British su- 
premacy ; but for a time there was little cliange in the 
ministry, and none in colonial policy. Pitt retained his 
place, and Britain augmented her power. 

The conquest of Canada being completed, the Assem- 
29. bly voted to disband the regiment in fifteen days after it 
should be discharged by the commander-in-chief, and also 
requested the governor to proclaim a day of general 

Nov. thanksgiving for the result of the campaign. This was 
done, and the occasion was celebrated with the usual re- 

Dec. The death of Thomas Ward, who for fourteen years 
had been secretary of the colony, occasioned a special ses- 
sion of the Assembly to choose a successor. His brother, 
31. Henry Ward, Avas elected secretary, and retained the 

ofiice for thirty-eight years, until his death. 
1761. At this session. Gov. Hopkins oifered to the members. 
Tan. 1. their private capacity, to withdraw his name from the 
political canvass, " for the peace of the colony,"^ provided 
Mr. Ward w^ould do the same. To this proposal Ward 
2. replied the next day, stating his reasons for oj^posing 



Hopkins, and leaving): tlie siibiect in the Lands of tlie free- CHAP, 

Funeral ceremonies in lionor of tlic late King were ITOI. 
performed at Newport, at the close of which his Majesty "-^'J^"' 
George III. was proclaimed by the sheriff from the court- 

The next day a sermon on the death of George II. was 20. 
preached by the Rev. Ezra Styles, in presence of the civil 
and military officers of the colony. Parliament made 31 
another grant to the colonies for the past year, of the 
same amount as for the three previous campaigns. The 
appointment of John Temple to be Surveyor-General for Feb. 
the northern colonies, to execute the acts of trade and 
navigation, was a prelude to serious disturbances. The 
enforcement of these acts had always been resisted in 
America, and was especially odious in Rhode Island. 
The London custom-house followed up this measure by 
appointing Nicholas Lechmere to be Searcher and Land 25. 
Waiter at Newj^ort. At the same time the Board of 
Trade sent over their usual series of twenty questions 
respecting the condition of the colony. The illegal traffic 
carried on from the northei-n colonies with the French 
West Indies, under cover of flags of truce, gave 9flence 
to the British merchants ; but it was too lucrative to be 
easily stopped. In vain did the crown officers, aided by 
some of the governors, apply to the courts for writs of 
assistance ; warrants to search for smuggled goods and to 
demand aid in the work from all persons. The granting 
these writs was resisted by the merchants of Boston, who 
retained council to oppose them. - It was on this question 
that the voice of James Otis was now first heard in de- 
fence of " the rights of the colonies." The writs were 
legal, and as such were granted, but were rarely used on 
account of tlie odium attachino; to them. Tliis was the 
first open murmur of discontent between the colonies and 
the mother country. In the course of the controversy, 



CHAP, new ideas were developed, to which there could be but 
^5^^^ one logical result — revolution. 

1761. New sources of trade were always encouraged in 
Twhode Island, and patent rights w^ere readily granted to 
any wdio would introduce desirable branches of industry. 
James Lucena, a Portuguese subject, w^as naturalized by 

^2^' the Assembly, and an exclusive right for ten years was 
bestowed upon him to manufacture soap, similar to that 
made in Castile, of wdiich he knew the process. At the ex- 
piration of his patent, he was to reveal the secret to the As- 
sembly. Lotteries were granted for continuing the paive- 
ment of streets in Newport, and to commence paving in 
Providence from Weybosset Bridge, north, south, and 
west. An amendment to the election law was made, al- 
lowing any freeman w^lio should move from one town into 
another, to vote upon certificate of his being a freeman, 
provided he owned a sufiicient freehold estate in his new 
place of residence, and also permitting the eldest son of 
a freeholder to become a freeman without being pro- 
pounded for three months, as was required in all other 

Although the conquest of Canada w^as completed, it 
was deemed necessary in order to protect the newly ac- 
quired territory, to keep a large force in the field, equal 
to two-thirds of that heretofore employed. Designs 
against the French West Indies were also to be carried 
^^iar. out. The Assembly voted to raise six hundred and sixty- 
30- six men in seven companies,^ and directed the treasurer 
to hire eight thousand pounds, lawful money, for nine 
niontlis at the rate of seven per cent, interest per annum ; 
failing in which, an issue to that amount in bills of credit, 
payable in five years and bearing five per cent, interest, 

^ John Whiting, colonel ; Samuel Rose, lieutenant-colonel ; Christopher 
Hargil, Major. The company officers whose names appear for the first time 
in the service, were, of 2d. lieutenants — Andrew Boid, Abraham Hawkins, 
Hezekiah Saunders ; Ensigns — William Prior, Comfort Carpenter, Joseph 
Brownel, Elias Burdick. 



to be redeemed by taxation, was to be made. A tax of CIIAP. 
sixteen thousand pounds, lawful money, was assessed, to 
be collected in November. The troops were ordered by 17(11. 
Gen. Amherst to be sent forward to Albanv. The Assem- 
bly had always, until this year, met on the day before 
the general election to act upon the admission of freemen. 
The recent law, requiring the actual election of State 
officers to be held at the town meetings, rendered this 
course no longer necessary. The legislature therefore met May 6. 
on election day, the first Wednesday of May. ' The proxies 
sent from the towns were placed in charge of the clerk of 
the House, and the usual business of admitting freemen 
of the colony was j)ostponed for one month, when the 
niinor officers were chosen, and William Read was made 
captain, and Caleb Carr lieutenant of Fort George. At j^^^^ 
each change in the command of the fort, a full report was 8. 
required of its condition and armament. At this time 
there were twenty-six mounted cannon in the battery, be- 
sides fourteen cannon for the colony sloop of war, a few 
old guns, and a large amount of annnunition and small 
arms. An act to ascertain the value of rateable estates, 22. 
fixed the tax valuation of several descriptions of property, 
in old tenor money. " Servants for life between fourteen 
and forty -five years of age " were " valued at five hundred 
j)Ounds ; horses and mares from two to four years of age, 
at forty pounds per head," abo^ e that age at eighty 
pounds ; oxen of four years and upwards at ninetj^ 
pounds ; other cattle from forty to seventy pounds ; goats 
at three, sheep at five, and swine at twelve pounds each. 

Gen. Amherst, determined to be in season, wrote re- 15^ 
questing Rhode Island to keep one company of sixty-four 
men in pay the next winter.' The appropriation made juiy 
by Parliament to the colonies for the year 1759, was not 3. 
paid until this time, and then only one-half in cash, and 

^ The colonies rarely sent into the field quite the number of men voted 
by them. The deficiencies this year were larger than usual, and about in 



CHAP, the balance in exchequer orders, bearing four per cent, 
interest. The sliare of Ehode Island was ninety -three 

1761. hundred and thirty-eight pounds sterling, of whicli one- 
half was placed in the hands of the agent, subject to draft, 
and the remainder he received in stock, as had been the 
case with the previous appropriation. 

^g^* Negotiations for peace in Europe were broken off by 
the formation of that singular alliance between the Bour- 
bon sovereigns, known as the " Family Compact," and 
the simultaneous signing of a special Convention between 
France and Spain. By the Compact it was agi'eed that 
the several branches of tlie Bourbon family should sus- 
tain each other against all foreign powers ; questions of 
peace or war involving any one of them thus becoming 
the common cause of all. By this arrangement, in which 
Spain was the loser, the aid of her fleets was at a later 
period secured to the republican cause in America, when 
Louis XYI. embraced the popular side. By the Conven- 
tion, Spain bound herself to declare war with Great 
Britain, unless peace should be concluded before the first 
of May, and both these great powers resolved to unite, if 
possible, all the lesser commercial states in a league against 
the maritime supremacy of England.' This course, of 
which Pitt was secretly advised, rendered a war with 

a like proportion among the several colonies. From General Amherst's re- 
turn of troops engaged in this campaign, made to the War Office, we find : 

No. Voted. 

No. Kaised. 

Eemained in Wi 

New Hampshire, 








Rhode Island, 








New York, 




New Jersey, 







North Carolina. 



The southern troops were mainly employed in active hostilities against 
the Cherokee Indians. 

^ Lord Mahon's History of England, chap, xxxvii. ; Bancroft's U. S., 
chap. xvii. vol. iv. p. 403-5. 


Spain imperative. The majority of the ministry desired CIIAP. 
peace, and refused to sanction any other policy. Pitt in- 
sisted upon war, and thus aided the intrigue that was 1761. 
forming among his colleagues to oust him. 

The coronation of George III. and his young queen Sept. 
took place wdiile these important events were in progress, 
but produced no change in tlie temper of the ministry. 
A few days later Pitt resigned the seals, the ascendency Oct. 5. 
of Lord Bute was complete, and the Earl of Egremont 
became secretary of the colonies, the place once so ably 
filled by the fallen premier. A pension of three thousand 
pounds a year for himself, and a place in the peerage for 
his wife, with the title of Baroness of Chatliam, was the 
present reward of the man who, within five years, had 
raised England from a condition of comparative humility 
to be the greatest power in the Avorld. 

A meeting at which only private business was ti*ans- Sept. 
acted, was followed by the regular autumnal session of the '''' 
Assembly, w^hen tlie sixty -four men, required for winter 
service, were retained to garrison Fort Stanwix. An ex- 12. 
cise upon liquors sold at retail, which had existed for 
many years, was continued, and the rate fixed at three 
shillings a gallon, currant wine, a domestic production, 
only excepted. Bills of exchange on England for the 
colony's war money were ordered to be sold at five per 
cent, premium, and the proceeds to be applied in redeem- 
ing lawful money bills, six shillings of which, or four and 
sixpence sterling, were reckoned as one dollar. The law 
requiring the legislature to sit in the several counties, 
compelled frequent adjournments. This session was begun 
in IS'ewport, and adjourned to South Kingstown. The 28. 
custom was fatiguing and useless. It seems to have arisen 
from local jealousies. Its efi'ect was to prevent a full at- 
tendance of members, and often, from this cause, to create 
the heart-burnings it was intended to allay. An instance 
of such a result occurred at this adjournment. 

Two remarkable natural phenomena marked the year. 



CHAP. The first was in tlie spring, wlien two shocks of an 
earthquake were felt, between two and three o'clock at 
1761. night, all over 'New England. The other was a terrible 
■^^J^* north-east storm, which occurred in the recess of the 
Oct. Assembly. The spire of Trinity Church was blown down, 
and the tide rose to an unparalleled height, sweeping away 
AVeybosset Bridge in Providence. Great damage was 
done to the shipping and wharves, and large trees were 
torn up by the violence of the gale. An application w^as 
28. made to the Assembly for aid in rebuilding the bridge, 
and one thousand pounds were allowed for that object. 
Eight members of the House protested against the appro- 
priation, on the ground that but thirty -five members were 
present, fourteen of whom were from Providence county ; 
"whence it appears that but thirteen deputies, besides those 
directly interested, participated in the vote. We have 
seen that lottery grants for every variety of object had 
become frequent. One was made at this time for build- 
ing a church in Johnston, but the most singular purpose 
for which this ready but doubtful device was solicited, 
was the making a passage around Pawtucket Falls, " so 
that fish of almost every kind, who choose fresh water at 
certain seasons of the year, may pass with ease." It was 
represented that the country above the falls would derive 
much advantage by thus facilitating the access of the fish 
to the upper waters. A lottery to raise fifteen hundred 
pounds, old tenor, was granted for this purpose.' 

The first theatrical company that ever performed in 
America, came to Newport this autumn from Williams- 
burg, recommended by the governor and council, and 
many leading planters in Virginia. The manager was 
David Douglass. Their application for a license was at 

^ Twelve years later, in August, 1173, the Assembly passed "an act 
making it lawful for any one to break down or blow up the rocks at Paw- 
tucket Falls, to let fish pass up," what was done in that way in 1*761 having 
been found to be of pubhc utility, and "the said river" was "declared a 
public river." 



first refused by the town, but afterward granted, and the CIIAP. 
performances were well attended. A temporary theatre ^jl^ 
was built, which was blown down in the great gale, and iTni. 
the comedians narrowly escaped with their lives. During 
the year there was an extensive emigration from New 
England to Nova Scotia. About one hundred persons 
went from the single town of Newport.^ 

The fieet designed to operate in conjunction with Ivod- 
ney against the French colonies in the AVest Indies, sailed 
from New York with an army of twelve thousand men, ■^'I^* 
2)artly provincial troops, under Gen. Monckton, who had 
just been appointed governor of that province. The war 
was now to be prosecuted with equal vigor at the opposite 
extreme of North America, and with the same result as in 
Canada. The circular of the Earl of Egremont required Dec. 
the same number of provincials to be raised for the com- 
ing as for the past campaign. The zeal of Uliode Island, 
ever ready for service on the sea, was further stimulated 
by the allowance of four hundred pounds sterling as 23. 
bounty for the seamen sent to Admiral Durell two years 
before. The rejected policy of Pitt was triumphantly 
vindicated by the course of events that soon compelled 1762. 
the new ministry to adopt it by declaring war against Jan. 4. 
Spain. A new enemy was now to be engaged, renewed 
efforts were to be made by the colonies, and Parliament 
appropriated a hundred and thirty-three thousand pounds Feb. 
sterling towards their war expenses. The triumph of ^* 
British arms in the West Indies was decisive. Martinique, 
the richest of the French possessions in tliat quarter, sur- 
rendered, and soon the entire outer group of the Carib- 14. 
bean Islands fell before the fleet of Podney. The seas 
swarmed with privateers, to the utter destruction of 
French commerce. But a greater enterprise and a more 
brilliant victory were to result from the new war. The 
conquest of Cuba was to humble the ]u-ide of S])ain, and 

^ Bull's Memoir of Rhode Island. 



CHAP, to become the crowning glory of the war in America. 

^^2^ For this object the colonies were required to furnish ad- 
1762. ditional troops. The quota assigned to Rhode Island, by 
Feb. QY^QY of Gen. Amherst, was a hundred and seventy-eight 
men. The regular regiment of six hundred and sixty-six 

22. men, was voted by the Assembly,' and live thousand 
pounds in lawful money bills, to be redeemed at the end 
of five years by taxation, were emitted to cover the ex- 
penses. The additional (piota of a hundred and seventy- 
eight men, was raised at an adjourned session, and a fur- 
Mar, ther issue of two thousand pounds was made on this ac- 

23. count. 

A disastrous fire, in the month of February, destroyed 
^ all the stores on Long Wharf, in New^port. Some of the 
sufferers petitioned for and received the grant of a lottery 
for their benefit. Several such grants were made at the 
same time ; one to raise a thousand dollars for putting a 
steeple on St. John's Church in Providence, and one for 
opening the communication with the sea from the great 
pond on Block Island which had been closed, whereby 
the cod and bass fishery had been spoiled, and wdiat was 
once a secure harbor for fishing vessels, could no longer 
be entered. 

Party spirit now rose very high in Phode Island. The 
hostility between town and country acquired fresh stimu- 
lus from the report of a committee to ascertain the value 
of ratable estates which was made at the recent session. 
Twenty deputies recorded their protest against the adop- 
tion of the report, because, in their opinion, it laid too 
large a proportion of taxes upon the country towns. To 
quiet a strife which had so long and so bitterly distract- 

^ The regimental officers were Samuel Rose, colonel ; Christopher Hargil, 
lieutenant-colonel; Nathaniel Peck, major. The company officers who now 
appear for the first time in the service were : — 1st lieutenants — Samuel 
Thornton, Thomas Cotterill ; 2d Heutenant — William Herenden ; ensigns — 
Daniel Coggeshall, jr., Alexander Brown, Simeon Stevens, Jonathan Miller, 
Ishina<4 Wilcox, Boriah Hopkins, John Tefft. 

Surgeon, Benjamin Brown ; adjutant, Lieutenant Asa Kimbal. 



eel tlie colony, Samuel Ward, following tlie exaiiii)le of CHAP, 
Gov. Hopkins tlie year before, submitted to the General 


Assembly a series of proposals in writing, wliicli were, 1702 


that Gov. Hopkins and himself should each resign their ^^^* 

pretensions to the office of governor ; that some Newport 
gentleman should be chosen to that place, and suggesting 
the name of Gideon Wanton ; that the deputy-governor 
should be selected from Providence, and naming Nicholas 
Cook or Daniel Jenckes, both of the Hopkins party, as 
suitable persons ; and that the Assistants should be 
equally chosen from the two parties. This effort at con- 
ciliation was not accepted by the other side. Perhaps the 
fa(;t that the governorship, by this arrangement, would be 
given to the Ward or opposition party, while the Magis- 
trates were to be equally divided, was thought too great 
a concession to be made by the dominant interest which 
for four successive years had held the power.' The result 
was a renewal of the contest more fiercely than ever at 
the next election, and the complete triumph of the Ward May 5. 
party by the choice of Samuel Ward as governor, and a 
majority of the council, six of whom were new members, 
while of the other four two were from Newport, the 
stronghold of the victorious party. 

For the great expedition against Cuba, shortly to sail -'^P^'^^ 
from New York, Gen. Amherst ordered two hundred and 
seven men from Rhode Island to be sent on immediately, 
and soon after wrote for the remainder of the regiment to n. 
be forwarded to Albany. Trade with the enemy was 
carried on by the colonies to an extent that roused the 
indignation of the home government, by whose orders 
Amherst wrote to the northern colonies, threatening an 25 
embargo unless the exportation of provisions should iii- 

These "proposals for peace," and many other valuable papei-s relating 
to the Ward and Hopkins controversy, and to other important periods in 
the history of this State, were deposited a few years since in the office of 
the secretary by Richard R. "Ward, Esq., of New York, a grandson of Gov. 
Samuel W'ard. 


CHAP, staiitly cease. Soon after this, a seizure of papers Le- 
longing to French subjects in Xew York, disclosed a plan 
for obtaining supplies so extensive that Amherst at once 
wrote to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, 
to laj an embargo upon all but transport vessels engaged 
in government employ. In little more than a month, sup- 
plies for the British forces having been received from 
'^"^^ England, it was removed. The detachment of Rhode 
Island troops destined for the West Indies was in com- 
mand of Lieutenant-colonel Ilargil. To defray the ex- 
2)enses of their outfit, two thousand pounds, lawful money 
May 5. bills, were issued by the Assembly. Col. Whiting was 
authorized to enlist the Rhode Island troops at Fort Stan- 
wix, whose term was about to expire, into the regiments 
of regulars. 

The first instance in the history of the colony, wdiere 
the sentence of death was passed upon a convicted bur- 
glar, occurred at this time. The criminal petitioned for 
pardon, and received a reprieve of fourteen months, until 
his case could be presented to the King with a recommen- 
June ^^'^^ioi^ mercy. ^ An addition to the fire act requiretl 
14. six fire hooks and ladders to be kept in Newport ; tliat 
each dwelling-house sliould be furnished with a leathern 
bucket, having the owner's name painted upon it, and a 
ladder to reach to the toi) of the house, or in lieu thereof, 
a trap door in the roof ; that gunpowder should be stoi'cd 
in the public powder-house, exce23ting only twenty -five 

^ It is believed that the doctrine that the death penalty is unlawful 
originated in Rhode Island. It is found in that dangerous paper, submitted 
to the town of Providence in the winter of 1654-5, which asserts, " that it 
is blood guiltiness, and against the rule of the gospel, to execute judgment 
upon transgressors against the private or public weal," and which called 
forth the masterly letter of Roger Williams defining his idea of liberty of 
conscience. Had this been the only corollary to be deduced from that 
perilous document, Williams would hardly have combated it in the manner 
he did. Ante, chap, viii., vol. i., p. 254. In this case the pardon was re- 
fused, and the burglar was hung on Easton's beach, November 16, 1764, 
the last execution that has taken place in the county of Newport up to this 
time, except for military offences during the Revolution. 



pounds, which any person might keep in a tin canister at chap. 
liis own residence. The mode of landing and shipping 
powder on board vessels in the harbor, w^as also regulated. 1702. 

The most brilliant achievement of British arms was '^^^^ 
the capture of Havana. A powerful fleet, under Admiral 
Pococke, had sailed from England in March, destined for 
this point. Having joined a part of Rodney's squadron, 
the armament, consisting of thirty-seven ships of M^ar, a 
hundred and lifty transports, and an army of ten thousand 
men, appeared off the Moro. The Spanish garrison num- 6. 
bered forty-six hundred men. The siege was most difh- 
cult. Under a burning sun, in a sickly climate, against a 
resolute foe and an almost impregnable castle, the steadi- 
ness, valor, and endurance of the troops were tried to 
their utmost. Reinforcements of twenty-five hundred 
negroes from the other islands, at the commencement of 
the siege, and of colonial troops under Gen. Lyman arriv- 
ing from New York some weeks later, increased the force 
to nearly fifteen thousand men. At length, after incredi- 
ble hardships and a fearful loss of life, a breach was 
€fFected, the w^hole army rushed to the assault, and the July 
strong castle of the Moro was carried by storm. The 
batteries w^ere turned upon the city of Havana, which two 
weeks later surrendered, and " the gem of the Antilles " Aug. 
became the prize of British valor. The treasure captured 
was immense, by some estimated at three millions ster- 
ling, but the cost was dear. It is said that when the city 
capitulated, there were not more than twenty -five hundred 
men of the besiegiiig army fit for- service. Upon the 
continent the cessation of active operations had so im- 
pai]-ed all interest in the war, that desertions were fre- 
quent, and recruiting was difficult. Gen. Amherst wrote 
to request that a company be retained, as last year, for 
w^inter service, and took occasion to reprove the colony 
for raising so few recruits for the regular corps. The 
Assembly voted to retain one company at Fort StauAvix, 23. 
and gave orders to allow recruits to be enlisted in accord- 



CHAP, aii^^e witli that letter. The accounts of the colony were 

thoroughly examined, and detailed reports were presented 
1762. by committees appointed to examine the books of the 
committee of war, the general treasurer, the naval officer, 
and the paper-money office respectively. From the latter 
it appears that there were outstanding in bills of credit, 
of old tenor, over ninety -three thousand pounds, of Crown 
Point bills twenty -three hundred pounds, and of lawful 
money, sixty-six thousand pounds.^ An act to suppress 
theatrical exhibitions w^as passed. Douglass had moved 
his company from Newport, built a theatre, and com- 
menced playing in Providence, where large numbers of 
people came from Boston to attend the performances. 
July The citizens, considering the theatre a nuisance, voted in 
town meeting to petition the Assembly for its suppression, 
and this act, which remained in force for some years, was 
accordingly passed. 
Sept. The last important event of the war in America, was 
18. the re-capture of St. John's, which had been surprised by 
a French squadron under Admiral De Ternay early in 
the season. The garrison, numbering seven hundred and 
seventy men, surrendered to Lord Colville, and thus the 
great island of Newfoundland, the key to the St. Law- 
rence, once more fell into the hands of England, and com- 
pleted the conquest of the French possessions east of the 

21. To supply the treasury, and to pay off the troops, 
whose return was shortly expected, an emission of four 
thousand pounds in lawful money bills, bearing five per 
cent, interest, to be redeemed by taxation at the end of 

1 The exact amounts were £93,687 15s. 2^d. old tenor, £2,321 lis. Crown 
Point, £66,403 4s. 6d. lawful money. For a concise account of the colonial 
currency of Rhode Island, the reader is referred to an able pamphlet upon 
this subject by Hon, Elisha R. Potter, entitled "A brief account of Emis- 
sions of Paper Money made by the colony of Rhode Island." Providence, 
1837. 48 pp. 

^ General Amherst's letter of 12th October, with a copy of the capitu- 
lation of the Count de Ilaussonville, 18th September, 1762. 



five years, was made, and a tax of eight tlioiisand pounds, CIIAP. 
payable in l^ovember, was laid, of which Newport was 
assessed fifteen hundred and sixty, and Providence five 1762. 
hundred pounds. The apportionment of this tax gave 
great dissatisfaction. Several deputies entered a protest 
against it, and some of the towns refused to assess their 
portion until a new estimate was ordered. Violations of 
the laws regulating the admission of freemen and manner 
of voting, led to an amendment of the statute, providing 
that whoever should give or receive a deed of real estate 
for election purposes, should be disfranchised ; that sus- 
pected voters might be challenged at the polls ; that the 
certificates of those voting thereby should bear date with- 
in ten days of the time of election ; that whoever should 
vote without due qualification, or should cast more than 
one vote for any officer, should be fined twenty pounds ; 
and that in the admission of freemen of the colony, and in 
the conduct of the general elections, the Assembly should 
join in grand committee and not act in separate Houses. 
This act was closely connected with the political contro- 
versy then raging in the colony. The last clause was en- 
acted in consequence of the conduct of the Upper House 
at the spring election, upon a question of the admission 
of freemen. The Assembly being in grand committee, 
certain proxy votes were thrown out as being cast by un- 
qualified 23ersons, whereupon the governor and assistants 
Avitlidrew, claimed a negative upon the proceedings of the 
deputies, and received and counted the rejected votes, 
which were for Ward. This caused much excitement. It 
was considered as a high-handed proceeding on the part 
of the Upper House, and was used in panq^hlets and 
political articles with disastrous enect upon Ward at 
the ensiling election, as we shall see. 

Tlie third newspaper printed in Ehode Island, and the q^^^ 
first in Providence, was now commenced by William 20 
Goddard. It was called "The Providence Gazette and 
Country Journal." In its columns Gov. Hopkins publish- 




CHAP, ed the first and only chapter of his " Account of Provi- 
^^^^^ dence," intended to be a history of the State, but which 
1762. was suspended in consequence of the difficulties that en- 
sued, leading to the Revolution. That the old feeling of 
Puritan hostility to " the heretic colony," was not yet ex- 
tinguished, this publication was a means of proving. 
While this chapter, which occupied several articles, was 
appearing in the Gazette, Mr. Goddard received several 
abusive letters from Massachusetts inquiring how much 
he received for it, and containing many other remarks in- 
sulting to the editor, the author, and the colony.' 
Q^^^ Advices of the payment of the war appropriation for 
27. 1760 having been received from the agent, the treasurer 
was ordered to draw upon him for the amount, eighty- 
eight hundred sixty-one pounds, twelve shillings, sterling, 
and to redeem thereAvitli as many lawful money bills of 
credit as possible. A small portion of the fund due to 
each colony was retained by the home government until 
the returns of Gen. Amherst should inform them of the 
exact number of troops furnished by each colony. The 
governor was requested to write to Sir Jeffrey for a copy 
of his returfts to the war office, that those relating to the 
Phode Island regiment might be compared with the 
muster-roll of the colony. The Assembly ordered a pub- 
lic thanksgiving to be held on the eighteenth of Novem- 
])er, for the happy result of the war. 

Upon news of the capture of Havana reaching Europe, 
preliminaries of peace, which had been agreed upon by 
the other belligerents, and only resisted by Spain until 
Nov. the result of that siege could be known, were signed at 
^- Fontainebleau, and an ai-mistice ensued. The colonial 
23. troops returned from the West Indies broken down by 
disease, and more than decimated by the casualties of 
war. From a despatch of Gen. Amherst, we learn that 

^ This fact was communicated to the late Judge Eddy by Mr. Goddard 
himself, and is found under date of August 18th, 1817, the day when the 
information was obtained, among Judge Eddy's historical MSS. 



many of the Eliocle Island regiment died upon the liome- cnAF. 

ward passage, and their ranks liad beeome feaifully ^ 

thinned by the disasters of the campaign. Of the two 1762. 
hundred and seven men nnder Lieutenant colonel Ilargil, 
but one hundred and twelve survived the siege of Havana. 
The great war was ended. Although, pending the discus- 
sion, of the preliminaries, it was expedient, in order to keep 
up a show of force, to recruit the regular troops in the 
several colonies, for which purpose Amherst allotted the Dec. 8. 
forty-eighth regiment to be recruited in Rhode Island, yet 
the result proved this precaution to be unnecessary. The 17G3. 
definitive treaty of peace, known from the place of its 
signature, as the Peace of Paris, was concluded between 
France and Spain on one hand, and England and Portu- 
gal on the other. France lost every foot of ground upon 
the North American Continent. All east of the Missis- 
sippi was ceded to England, and New Orleans, with the 
whole of Louisiana west of the river, was transferred to 
Spain as indemnity for the losses she had sustained. 
The free navigation of the river was guaranteed. Spain 
ceded Florida to England in exchange for the Ha- 
vana. The most valuable of the conquered West India 
Islands were restored to France, with certain rights of 
fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In Europe each of ' 
the conflicting powers received back its own, but the ex- 
istence and nationality of Prussia was established by the 
heroism and statesmanship of the great Frederick. India, 
next to America, was the theatre of the most important 
changes effected by the war. The French, everywhere 
beaten, al)andoned the right to fortify their settlements 
in Bengal, and the foundation of that magnificent Indian 
empire, whose story reads like the pages of romance, was 
laid by the prowess of British arms. 

Such were the chief results of the most wide-spread, 
costly, and sanguinary strife which the world had ever 
seen. England had attained the pinnacle of power. The 
possession of the Ohio valley, for which the war had been 
VOL. II. — 52 



CHAP, commenced nine years before, liad led to tlie conquest of 
a continent in the West, the foundation of an empire in 

1763. the East, and the undisputed supremacy of the seas over 
the whole earth. Territorial ambition could grasp no 
more. It had already seized too much ; and before the 
colossal fabric could become fairly united under one cen- 
tral government, the most momentous political convulsion 
of modern times was to originate a new order of things, 
and to wrest forever from the crown of England her 
brightest jewel. Already had proposals to tax the colonies 
been made in the British Parliament. Royal governors 
and superseded commanders-in-chief returning from 
America, dissatisfied with the people, had urged the min- 
istry to more rigid measures of colonial policy. The acts 
of Trade and ^s'avigation, always unpopular, had of late 
become more obnoxious by the renewed vigor with which 
they were pressed. It was objected to the retaining of 
Canada in place of the West India Islands, in the treaty 
of peace, that it would strengthen the American colonies 
for revolt. Prophesies of future independence, at no 
remote period, were made by intelligent foreigners, and 
even hinted at in Parliament during the discussion of the 
treaty, as well as entertained by thoughtful, far-sighted 
statesmen at home. The controversy concerning the writs 
of assistance, had led to the discussion of natural rights, 
until the idea, if not the language, of liberty had become 
familiar to the popular mind. These were significant facts 
in which the ear of historic fancy can almost hear the 
distant drum-beat of the Revolution. 




The Peace of Paris concluded a war in which, for nine CHAP. 

years, the colonies had been learning their military t . \ 

strength, becoming enured to the hardships of the camp, l'<'63. 
and acquiring the customs of martial life. Their internal -^^ ' 
administrations had proceeded all the while with the 
same regularity as ever before. Increased taxation and 
an abundance%of military legislation were the only new 
features in their domestic system. Thus the habit of self- 
government was daily gathering strength, while the disci- 
pline of the camp, so soon to be needed for its preservation, 
was steadily pursued. Many stern lessons of self-denial, 
of loss, and of baffled enterprise, had been learned in the 
course of this war. From the port of Providence alone, 
forty-nine vessels of all sizes, with cargoes of great value, 
had been captured by the enemy w^ithin the past seven 

The General Assembly granted a lottery to improve 28. 
Church's Harbor, in Little Conipton, by erecting a wharf 
or breakwater as a shelter for fishermen, and another to 
construct a draw in Weybosset bridge, for the convenience 
of trade and ship-building, which were carried on exten- 

^ Providence Gazette, January 21, 1765, where a list of 65 vessels, from 
ships to sloops, lost since the declaration of war in 1756, is given, 16 of 
which had been wrecked, and the remainder captured. 


sivelj in what is now the cove. A large amount of sol- 
diers' clothing belonging to the colony, in the hands of 
1763. Yolikert Douw, who during the whole war had been the 
agent for Ehode Island at Albany, was ordered home. 
Mar. Although the war in Europe was ended, the colony was 
advised that the House of Conniions had again made an 
appropriation of a hundred and thirty-three thousand 
pounds for the American provinces. Along the whole 
frontier the Indians were in arms under the lead of Pon- 
tiac, " the king and lord of all the northwest." It was 
proposed to maintain a standing army of ten thousand 
men in America, for which, at present, and until the In- 
dians could be quelled, there was need. Orders were sent 
April from Whitehall for all the colonies to appoint a day of 

The conduct of the Ward party at the last election, art- 
fully represented by their opponents, in political pamph- 
lets, some of which are still in existence, lost them the 

^ay 4. power. For two successive years Hopkins was re-elected, 
w^ith a majority of the assistants on his side, and so violent 
was the feeling between the factions, that committees 
were appointed at this session to count again the proxy 
votes cast the preceding year for deputy-governor and 
assistants, where there had been an op23osition. To remedy 

June the confusion arising from so many varieties of paper 
currency, the Assembly decreed that silver and gold only 
should be legal tender in the discharge of contracts, un- 
less by special agreement. The value of many English 
and foreign coins in lawful money bills was established. 
Debts contracted in old tenor bills were to be discharged 
by paying so much of the bills as was equal in actual 
value to the nominal debt, or so much of silver or gold 
as the bills were w^orth. A scale of depreciation of old 
tenor bills, adopted in this act for the guidance of the 
courts, embracing a period of thirteen years, shows the 
value of a Spanish dollar to have been five pounds fifteen 
shillings in 1751, and to be seven pounds at the present 



time. Several deputies entered tlieir protest against chap. 
various clauses of this statute. 

Indian liostilities required that Gen. Amherst should 17fj3. 
send the regulars against them, and retain in service a 
portion of provincial troops to garrison the frontiers. He 
therefore notihed the governor of Ehode Island, that the 1*^- 
soldiers of this colony must be kept at Fort Stanwix. 
Captain Cornell accordingly advanced additional bounty 
to the men, whose terms of enlistment expired on the first 
of July, and wrote for orders from the government. 24. 

In the distribution of the Parliamentary appropriation 
for ITGO, Pennsylvania and Connecticut received more 
than their share, and thus became debtors to the other 
colonies. The matter was arranged between the several 
agents in England, that the debt should be paid in this 
country upon application made by the creditor colonies. 
Pennsylvania owed Rhode Island nineteen hundred and 
ten pounds sterling, and Connecticut owed six hundred 
and thirty-one pounds.* The governor was requested to Aug. 
send them copies of the agreement made by the agents, ^' 
and to ask payment of the above amounts. A tax of 
twelve thousand pounds, lawful money, w^as assessed, 
three-quarters of it to redeem paper bills, and the remain- 
der for the expenses of the government. By order of the 
Assembly, peace was generally proclaimed throughout 15. 
the colony, and a public thanksgiving was held. Ex- 25. 
Governor Richard Ward died at this time, aged seventy- 21. 
four years. 

The vigor with which the home government pressed 
the Acts of Trade and Navigation is seen in the increased 

^ Pennsylvania paid her debt to Riiode Island the next year ; that of 
Connecticut was settled between the agents of the two colonies in England. 

^ He was secretary of the colony for nineteen years, from 1714 to 1733 ; 
was elected deputy governor in 1740, and on the death of Governor Cran- 
ston in July of that year, was chosen by the Assembly to succeed him, and 
by the people for the two following years. He was the father of Governor 
Samuel, and of the late and present secretaries of the colony, Thomas and 
Henry Ward. 



CHAP, activity everywhere manifested in the revenue service. 

X\^iil. large number of new othcers were appointed, and more 

1763. rigid rules in the discharge of their duties wei'e adopted. 
Temple, the new Surveyor-General, residing at Boston, 
appointed Abraham Frances to be Searcher and Preven- 
14. tive at Providence. The London custom-house sent a 
commission to John Pobinson at IS^ewport to be Collector 
and Surveyor for Pliode Ishmd, in place of Thomas Clift, 
removed because he was not a resident of the colony, and 

Oct. 3. Temple appointed William Taylor as Comptroller of Cus- 
11- toms for the port of Newport. The Board of Trade issued 
a circular to the colonies, representing that the revenue 
had not kept pace with their developing connnerce, and 
did not yield one-quarter part of the cost of its collection, 
and requiring the suppression of illicit traffic w^itli foreign 
nations, and that proper protection should be given to 
22, the custom-house officials. The Earl of Colville stationed 
11. B. M. ship Squirrel, Captain Richard Smith, at New- 
port for the winter, " for the encouragement of fair trade 
by the prevention of smuggling." ^ That violations of 
the revenue laws were of constant occurrence, the legisla- 
tive records prove. Memorials from the Yice- Admiralty 
officers, and proceedings of the colonial courts, and of 
the Assembly upon the same, indicate the necessity there 
was for greater vigilance, if even the semblance of au- 
thority was to be maintained by the home government. 
Had the enforcement of the Acts of Trade been the only 
grievance of which the colonies had to complain, the 
Revolution might never have occurred. When we con- 
sider that in commercial communities like this, these Acts 
were among the earliest causes of complaint, and that 
their enforcement was but the execution of laws which, 
although opposed, were never questioned as to their ab- 
stract right or justice, but only as to their application to 

^ Admiral Colville's letter to Governor Hopkins, Halifax Harbor, Octo- 
ber 22, 1763. 



tlie colonies, and tliat the new princij)les introduced by CIIAP. 

the revohition still recognize those upon which these Acts ^ ; 

were based, we can better understand why so many pro- 17G3. 
vmcial families, connected with this branch of the home 
government, remained loyalists when the great struggle 
for independence ensued. 

Of the appropriation for 1761, Rhode Island now re- 
ceived as her share, six thousand and eighty-two pounds, 26. 
a part of which the Assembly applied to the redemption 
of bills of credit. The town councils were authorized to 
regulate monthly the assize of baker's bread in their 
respective towns. Upon the recall of Sir Jeffrey Am- 
herst to England, Major-Gen. Thomas Gage, a name after- ^^ov. 
wards to become odious in America, was appointed to the 
chief command. Gen. Gage wrote to all the Kew Eng- Dec. 6. 
land governments for their co-operation in the war against 
the Indians, and required of Rhode Island a battalion of 
two hundred men in four companies to be sent to Albany 
early in the spring. 

The Jews had become an important element in the 
population of Newport. There were now more than sixty 
families of the Hebrew faith in that town, many of whom 
w^ere distinguished for their wealth and commercial enter- 
prise. They had commenced, the previous year, to erect 
a Synagogue, which was now dedicated with great pomp 2. 
and ceremony to the worship of the God of Abraham. 

The famous Sugar act, or Molasses act, as it was called, 
passed thirty years before, and which had then given oc- 
casion to Partridge, the Rhode Island agent, to sound the 
key-note of revolution,' had just expired by limitation. 
Notice that, with some alterations, it would be revived 
and made perpetual, having been received, an earnest 
remonstrance against it was made by the Rhode Island Jan. 
merchants to the General Assembly, and a special session 
was held to consider the subject. The governor was re- 

^ An*e, chap, xvi., p. 124. 



CHAP, quested to send certified copies of this paper to Sherwood, 
the agent, to be presented to the Board of Trade, and to 

1764. direct liim, in connection witli agents of tlie other north- 
ern colonies, or any three of them, to nse his inflnence in 
behalf of the objects of the memorial. The governor was 
also requested to write directly to the Lords of Trade on 
the same subject. The extent of the foreign trade of 
Rhode Island for the past year, and especially of that 
with the French sugar islands ; the advantage of this 
latter to Great Britain, as well as to the colonies ; with a 
strong representation that it should be left free, instead 
of being clogged by duties, were the subjects of this and of 
simihir communications made dui-ing the year. From an 
exhibit of the custom-house books at ]N"ewport, contained 
in the memoiial, we find that for the past year there were 
a hundred and eighty-four foreign clearances to Europe, 
Africa, and the West Indies, and three hundred and fifty- 
two vessels engaged in the coasting trade and fisheries, 
employing an aggregate of twenty-two hundred seamen. 

The death of the deputy-governor, John Gardner, who 
for the past eight years had held that ofiice, occurred soon 

Feb. after, the adjournment of the Assembly. At the next 
session Joseph Wanton, jr., was chosen to the place. 
Rhode Island College, now known as Brown University, 
w^as incorporated, and w^as first located at Warren, but 
six years later was removed to Providence. Tlie origiii 
of this Institution is due to the Philadelphia Association 
of Baptist Churches, formed fifty-seven years before, 
which had early projected plans for the education of their 
ministry. The existing schools of learning in America, 
were so exclusively controlled by other denominations, 
that it was almost impossible for a Baptist clergyman to 
be educated in any of them without too great a sacrifice 
of principle and position. The credit of establishing the 
University in this State belongs to Rev. Morgan Edwards, 

1761. who three years before had emigrated from Wales, and 
become pastor of the first Baptist church in Philadelphia, 



It was chiefly by his exertions in raising funds and books chap. 
at home and abroad, and by his eflbrts with the legishi- 
ture, that the college was founded, and a charter obtained, 17G4. 
in Ehode Island, more liberal than any that tlien existed 
in America.' James Manning, afterward the first presi- 
dent of the college, was deputed by the Association to 1T62. 
become a leader in the work, and travelled as far as Hali- 
fax upon the business, stopping at Rhode Island to dis- 
cuss the plan with some prominent men of the colony."^ y^^- 
The charter expressly forbids the use of religious tests. 27.' 
The corporation is divided into two Boards — the Trustees, 
thirty-six in number, of whom twenty-two must be Baptists, 
five Quakers, five Episcopalians, and four Congregation al- 
ists, and the Fellows, twelve in number, of whom eight, in- 
cluding the President, must be Baptists, and the remainder 
of other denominations. Twelve Trustees and five Fellows 
form a quorum. The college estate, the students, and the 
members of the faculty, with their families, are exempt 
from taxation and from serving as jurors. 

It may here be stated, as illustrating the independent 
position of this institution with regard to the State, that 
the only pecuniary favor ever asked or obtained for it 
from the General Assembly was at the September session, 
1776 ; and this can scarcely be called a favor, for it was 
merely an act of justice. The donations, amounting to 
more than four thousand dollars, had been made with the 
condition that the sums should be put at interest, and 
kept undiminished. They were loaned to the colony, and 
remained in the treasury when the Act of March, 1776, 
was passed, requiring all creditors to receive the amounts 
due to them, or to forfeit the interest after a certain time. 
In September the corporation petitioned to be excepted, 

^ Funeral sermon of Dr. Edwards by Rev. Dr. William Rogers, liis suc- 
cessor as pastor of the Philadelphia church, and a graduate, iji 1769, of the 
first class of seven men educated at Rhode Island College. 

Backus History of Baptists, ii. 236 ; Tustiu's Historical Discourse, pp. 



CHAP, for obvious reasons, from the operation of this act. The 
prayer was granted, and the interest annually paid as 
1764. before. 

The last of the old tenor bills, emitted fourteen years 
before, and called the ninth bank, were called in at this 
time. Tlie mortgages given upon loans of that issue were 
to be redeemed at the rate of seven pounds for a silver 
dollar, and the name of " old tenor " was abolished.' The 
war money for 1762 was now paid over to the colonies. 
The portion due to Rhode Island, five thousand pounds 
sterling, was drawn for, and the proceeds were appro- 
priated to redeem lawful money bills. Exchange on 
England was now at par. 

For half a century there had been no legislation on 
the subject of beasts of prey ; but of late wolves, once so 
destructive on the island, had so increased in the north 
and west parts of the colony, that a bounty of four pounds 
a head was offered for killing them. 

The scheme of taxing the colonies, which the prime 
minister, Grenville, had nearly perfected, included, besides 
the custom-house duty, a stamp tax. All commercial or 
legal documents, to be valid in courts of law, were to be 
written on stamped paper sold at fixed prices by govern- 
ment ofticers. A stamp duty was also placed upon news- 
j)apers. Upon the meeting of Parliament these measiwes 
were proposed, and without a division, or scarcely a dis- 
sent, it was voted " that Parliament had a right to tax 
the colonies." 

^P^il The stamp act was postponed that the colonies might 
select some other form of impost if they preferred, but the 

^ One deputy, James Barker, entered a rhyming protest against this act^ 
as follows: 

" I do beg leave for to protest 
Against this bill, which doth transgress 
Against our Sovereign Lord the King; 
Likewise, injustice is therein; 
For I can't see, upon my soul. 
Why two-fifths should discharge the whole." 



sugar act was passed at once. This reduced the duty upon chap. 
molasses from sixpence a gallon, under the old act, which 
amounted to prohibition, to threepence, wdiich was con- 1704-. 
sidered a revenue standard. It also placed a duty on 
coffee, spice, wines, and many foreign goods, and prohib- 
ited the export of lumber or iron except to England.' It 
strengthened the courts of Yice- Admiralty, and j^rovided 
effectual means of collecting the revenue. 

At the general election the same officers were contin- -^^^ ^ 
ued, the people confirming the choice of deputy-governor 
made by the Assembly. The number of insolvent peti- 
tions granted at this time showed that although the efforts 
of the past few years to regulate the currency and encour- 
age commerce, had been successful to a considerable ex- 
tent, they were not entirely so. Yet the revulsion was 
not so serious as the former one had been, and is scarcely 
worthy of notice except for the difficulty it caused in col- 
lecting taxes. This was so great that the treasurer was j^ne 
ordered to issue warrants of distress against the collectors H- 
who failed to gather in promptly the taxes assigned to 
them to receive. 

The news of the passage of the sugar act, and of the 
^proposition for a stamp act, created great excitement in 
America. A special session of the Assembly was con- j^j^ 
vened. A committee of correspondence was appointed^ 30. 
to confer w4th the other colonies upon measures for pro- 
curing a repeal of the sugar act, and the lessening of the 
duties recently imposed, and for preventing the passage 
of the stamp act, or the laying of any otlier tax, or im- 
post, upon the colonies, inconsistent with their rights as 
British subjects. The agent was also directed " to do 
every thing in his power, either alone or by joining with 
the agents of the other governments, to effect these pur- 

^ The restriction on lumber was removed the next year, and a bounty 
put upon its importation ; the duty on coffee was lowered. 

Governor Hopkins, Daniel Jenckes, and Nicholas Brown. 



CHAP. Tlie first of a series of difficulties, wliieli every year 
became more exasperating, between the King's armed 

1764. vessels and tlie inhabitants of Newport, now took place. 

July fYlxQ conduct of Lieut. Hill, commanding the schooner St. 
John, gave offence to the colony, and an order was given 
by two of the magistrates to the governor of Fort George, 
9. to fire upon the vessel, which was done. This was a bold 
proceeding, but no account of the cause that led to it, or 
of the result is preserved.^ The next year the matter was 
referred to by Capt. Leslir of the Cygnet, and the Assem- 
bly requested the governor to send home a statement of 
the case, and to lay a copy of it before that body ; but no 
subsequent reference is made to the affair. Nine years 
later the royal commission to inquire into the destruction 
of the Gaspee, proposed to investigate the affair of the St. 
John, but were overruled by some of their number. 

Sept. The fees of the custom-house officers were revised by 
10 . . 

a committee, to report at the next session ; the Assembly 

claiming to exercise the riglit they always had maintained 
in this matter, of stating for themselves the salaries of 
crown officers. The act was protested against by several 
deputies on various grounds, some that the fees were too 
high, others that due respect for the officers was not shown 
ill the passage of the act. A tax of twelve thousand 
pounds was laid, one-sixth of it for current expenses, 
which might be paid in old tenor bills at twenty-three and 
a half for one of lawful money, and five-sixths of it in 
these latter bills to redeem the same. This tax, also, was 
protested against as being too heavy for the colony, in its 
present crippled condition, to pay. Tke Board of Trade 
had required a full statement of the paper money issues 
of the colony to be sent to them. It was accordingly 
prepared, approved by the Assembly, and transmitted 
31. by the governor. It showed forty thousand pounds of 
bills emitted for war purposes to be still in circula- 
tion, equal in value to tliirty thousand pounds sterling, 
which, with a few old tenor bills yet outstanding, w^ouM 

^ For the few papers in thiV case that remain, see R. I. Co). Rec. v'. 42 '-30. 



expire by limitation witliin three years. Tins was exclu- chap- 
sive of a large debt due to private persons for loans con- tll^lL 
tracted during the war. 1704. 

We have already seen indications of party divisions in 
the colony upon questions relating to external affairs, 
quite distinct from the domestic struggle between the 
rival governors. That this was assuming a serious form, 
and was conducted in a secret manner, appeared from in- 
formation received while this Assembly was in session, 
that a petition to the King to vacate the charter of the 
colony had been sent out. The agent was instructed to 
oppose the petition, and to procure a copy of it with the 

Another supply of money, amounting to thirty-five 
hundred sixty-two pounds sterling, probably a portion of 
the war appropriation for 1763, was received by the 
agent, and drafts, at two and a half per cent, premium, 
were drawn on him, the proceeds to be applied to redeem- 
ing bills of credit. Tlie Assembly adopted an address to 
the King on the subject of taxation, and appointed the 
committee who prepared the address, also to peruse a 
pamphlet by Gov. Hopkins, entitled " The rights of the 
colonies examined," and should they approve it, to have 
two copies made and sent to the agent to be printed and 
used as miglit seem to him most advantageous." This 
address and the memorial to the Parliament, accompany- 
ing the remonstrance to the Board of Trade, were con- 
ceived in a higher strain than any that were sent out by 
the other colonies.^ The justice of Parliament in apply- 
ing the Acts of Trade to the colonies, was expressly de- 
nied, and in the correspondence with the other govern- 

^ The petition seems not to have been presented, as Sherwood writes, 
April 11, 1765. 

The stamp act was already passed when the copies of the pamphlet 
were received, so that it was too late, and the Rhode Island agent did not 
print it, Sherwood's letter 
^ Hutchinson, iii. 115. 



CHAP, ments, the determination of Rhode IsLind " to preserve 
'^^i^ its privileges inviolate," was coupled with an invitation 

1764. to devise a plan of union for the better maintenance of 
the liberties of all. The suggestion of a general union for 

May this object, first emanated from the town of Boston. It 
is contained in the instructions to their representatives at 
the general court in May, drawn by Samuel Adams, and 
adopted by that body in a memorial prepared by James 

June Otis to be sent to the agent in England. A circular was 
at the same time sent to the other colonies, desiring their 
united assistance to avert the common danger. 

1765. The paper money was fast disappearing by means of 
25 ' heavy taxation imposed for the purpose of its redemption. 

The treasurer was now directed to issue his notes, pay- 
able in two years at five per cent, interest to the holders 
of the bills emitted five years before, and a tax of twelve 
thousand four hundred and sixty-eight pounds fifteen 
shillings, lawful money, was laid to be paid in these notes. 
Efforts of this kind to preserve the credit of the colony 
were frequent and earnest. Since the war of the revolu- 
tion there has been no taxation in this State, comparable 
in severity to that which the colonists thus placed upon 
themselves to preserve their financial credit. But yet 
greater efforts were in store for them, and a sterner trial 
w^as close at hand. 
27. The stamp act passed the House of Commons by a 
vote of five to one, notwithstanding the splendid defence 
of the colonies made by Col. Barre and by Gen. Conway, 
which so endeared their names to the American people. 
March "^^^^ House of Lords concurred without debate, but the 
8. assent of the King was deferred, owing to his mental 
22. malady, for two weeks, when it was signed in his behalf 
by a commission. The first direct impulse was thus 
given to the revolution by a Parliament determined to 
coerce upon principle, and a monarch whose mind was 
wandering with insanity. 

It is long since the aborigines of Rhode Island, who 



formed so prominent a feature in the early history of tlie CHAP, 
colony, have arrested our attention. They had become ^^^^ 
civilized, christianized, and settled as agriculturists on 1705. 
the fields which a century before were tracked only by 
their war path or lighted up by their council fires. Al- 
though time has proved their organization to be radically 
incapable of permanent development in the new direction 
that European contact had given it, yet it is pleasing to 
observe that their expiring thoughts evince, if not an ap- 
titude to receive, at least a desire to know, those things 
which pertain to a higher life. The Society for Propa- 
gating the Gospel had, during the past year, sent Mr. 
Bennet as a teacher, with books, to the remnant of the 
Narragansets. The Sachem, Thomas Ninigret, now pe- April 
titioned the society to establish a free school for the chil- ^6. 
dren of the tribe ; and closes a truly eloquent letter with 
the " prayer that when time with us shall be no more, 
that when we, and the children over whom you have been 
such benefactors, shall leave the sun and stars, we shall 
rejoice in a far superior light." ' 

At the general election the Ward party triumphed by -^g^y 
a majority of two htmdred in a vote of nearly forty-four 
hundred. Samuel Ward was chosen governor, Elisha 
Brown deputy -governor, and the entire list of assistants 
was changed. The Providence Gazette was discontinued ^-^ 
for more than a year, partly from want of proper support, 
which the imposition of the stamp act seriously impaired. 

Difficulties betw^een British sliips of war touching at 
[N'ewport, and the townsmen, had commenced the past 
year in the case of'H. B. M. schooner St. John. Another 
matter that caused great irritation now occurred. The 
Maidstone, a vessel belonging to the British navy, lay in 
the harbor of ^^ewport, and for several weeks had im- 
pressed seamen from vessels arriving there, and even from 
wood boats and river crafts plying in the bay. The only 

^ Letters and papers — 1761, 1776, p. 22, No. 2, in Mass. His. Soc. 



CHAP, sailors wlio escaped iiiipressment were tlie natives of Kew- 
1^01% whom policy forbade to be thus abused. These 
1765. arbitrary proceedings caused the port to be avoided. 
Even the usual supplies received from coasters were Avith- 
held, and wood obtained from the I^arraganset shore had 
become scarce, no one daring to incur the risk of imj^ress- 
ment. The harbor was deserted by all but the dreaded 
Maidstone, or ships returning from foreign voyages, un- 
conscious of the danger that awaited them. A brig that 
Jnne arrived in the afternoon from Afi'ica, was innnediately 
boarded by the officers of the Maidstone, and the whole 
crew, after a severe scuffle, were pressed into the naval 

hundred sailors and boys, exasperated by this affair, seized 
the Maidstone's boat at one of the wharves, and dragged 
it through Queen street to the Common, where it was 
burned amid the shouts of the excited mob. The action 
was too sudden for the authorities to interfere, nor do we 
find that any redress was obtained by the officers. 

10. A petition for dividing Providence was granted, con- 
trary to tlie protest of the deputies from that and some 
other towns, and the town of North Providence was in- 
corporated. Providence contained over four Inmdred 
freemen, of whom those in the compact j^art were engaged 
in conmiercial pursuits, and those in the north were farm- 
ers. This was tlie chief argument for tlie division. The 
north burial ground, used also as a training field, was 
reserved to the people of Providence for these purposes. 

The Massachusetts House of Pepresentatives proposed 
a Congress of delegates to meet at New York in October, 
to consult on the condition of the colonies, and to devise 
means of presenting a statement thereof to the home gov- 
ernment, asking for relief. This resolve was communi- 
cated to the other legislatures, and was a formal adoi)tion 
of the suo^orestion contained in the Boston instructions the 

July past year. A change in the ministry, although resulting 
from domestic reasons alone, yet promised well for the 



colonies. Grenville gave place to the Marquis of Rock- chap. 
ingliam, and Gen. Conwaj became secretary for the colo- 
nies and leader of the Honse of Coninions, with the duke 17G5. 
of Grafton as his colleague. This change was joyfully 
received in America, but before it occurred, the passage 
of the stamp act was already known, and great disturb- 
ances had ensued. In the Virginia Assend)ly the match- 
less eloquence of Patrick Henry had embodied the spirit 
of resistance to arbitrary taxation in a series of resolutions 
wdiich were passed by a close vote. Massachusetts had "^g"® 
proposed the Congress just mentioned, and South Caroli- 
na was the first to follow her example in appointing dele- "^2.5^ 
gates to attend it. 

In Providence a special town meeting was convened, Aug. 
at which a committee^ was appointed to draft instructions ^' 
to their deputies in the General Assembly."^ The follow- 
ing week they reported a series of resolutions very similar 13. 
to those passed in Virginia, which were afterwards adopt- 
ed by the Assembly with some additions, to which we 
shall presently refer, ^o overt act of violence occurred 
in Providence. In Boston a mob attacked the house of 
secretary Oliver, the stamp distributor, and compelled 
him to resign the office. An extra number of the Provi- 15. 
dence Gazette, which had been for some time ^suspended, 
was issued, with " VOX POPULI, VOX DEI,'' in large 24 
letters above the title, and " Where the Spirit of the Lord 
is, there is Liberty. St. Paul." as a motto. In this 
sheet the spirit of resistance manifested in Boston was ex- 
tolled, the instructions of the Providence town meeting 
to their deputies were published, ^ hh extracts from Col. 
Barre's famous speech in Parliament, and from other colo- 
nial papers against the stamp act. The resignation of Au- 
gustus Johnston, the attorney-general who had been ap- 

' Stephen Hopkins, Xicholas Cooke, Samuel Xiglitengale, jr., John Brown, 
Silas Downer, and James Angell. 

The instructions and resolutions are printed in full by Judge Staples 
in Annals of Providence, pp. 210-13. 
VOL. II. — .53 



CHAP, pointed stamp distributor for Rhode Island, was also 
announced in this extra ; he refusing " to execute his 

1765. office against the will of on?' Sovereign Lord the Peojple 
(to use his own words)." ' The pulpit was urged to 
denounce the stamp act, and a leading clergyman of 

25. Boston, Jonathan Majliew, preached against it. The 
next day the riots were renewed. The houses of the Ad- 
miralty and revenue officers, and even of the lieutenant- 
governor, Hutchinson the historian, were plundered, and 

26. although the town formally disapproved the conduct of 
the mob, no punishment was inflicted on the offenders. 
At Xewpoi't the demonstrations \vere equally violent. 
Effigies of three prominent citizens,'' who liad incurred 

2'^- the popular odium by advocating the measures of Parlia- 
ment, wei'e drawn through the streets, hung on a gallows 
in front of the court-house, and in the evening were cut 
down and burnt in the presence of assembled thousands. 
On the following day the houses of these obnoxious per- 
sons were plundered by the mob, and they w^ere com- 
pelled to flee for protection on board the Cygnet, sloop- 
of-war, then lying in the harbor. The revenue officers, 
in fear for their lives, sought the same refuge and closed 

30. the custom-house. They addressed a letter to the govern- 
ment, demanding protection, and refusing to resume their 
offices until security was guaranteed to them.^ In the 
absence of the governor, Gideon Wanton, jr., of the council, 

31. replied, assuring the officers that all danger was passed, 
and inviting them to resume their duties. This did not 
quiet their fears. They demanded a guard for their pro- 

^ Providence Gazette Extraordinary, Saturday, August 24, 1*765, page 4. 

^ Augustus Johnston, Attorney-General of the colony ; Martin Howard, 
jr., an eminent lawyer; and Doctor Thomas Moffat, a Scotch physician. 
The two latter returned to England. Howard was appointed Chief Justice 
of N. Carolina the next year, and Moffat, comptroller of customs at New 

^ Letter signed John Robinson, collector; J. Nicoll, comptroller; and 
Nicholas Lechmere, searcher, dated Cygnet, Newport Harbor, August 30, 



tection, and also the arrest of Samuel Crandall, a ring- chap. 


leader of the rioters, who had dictated, as the terms ; 

upon which the collector might again set his foot on 1765. 
shore, that the custom-house fees should be regulated ac- 
cording to the late act of Assembly, in defiance of an act 
of Parliament, and that a ])rize sloop with molasses, un- 
der the guns of the Cygnet, awaiting the decision of an 
Admiralty Court at Halifax, should be restored. A dar- 
ing plan, for the capture of this prize, was made known to 
Capt. Leslir of the Cygnet, and by him communicated 
to Gov. Waid. It was intended to man a number of 
boats and take possession of Fort George ; then, with the 
boats, to cut out the sloop, and in case of resistance from 
the Cygnet to fire upon her from the fort. Had this at- 
tempt been made, either the Cygnet would have been 
sunk by the guns of the fort, and the revolution have 
commenced, as it did a few years later in the same waters, 
or the town would have been destroyed. But better 
counsels for the time jft'evailed ; measures were taken to 
secure the fort, and harniony was shortly restored. The 
popular feeling was assuaged by a lawful and peaceful 
demonstration against the stamp act, such as had been 
made in Providence. The deputies w^ere instructed by a 3^ 
town meeting to give their " utmost attention to those 
important objects — the court of admiralty and the act for 
levying stamp duties," at the approaching session of the 
Assembly. They ^veYe reminded that " It is for liberty, 
that liberty for which our fathers fought, that liberty 
which is dearer to a generous mind than life itself, that 
we now contend. The cause is vast and important." ^ 

So far were the British government or people from an- 
ticipating any resistance to the stamp act in America, that 
even the colonial agents, after vainly exerting their in- 
fluence against it, gave a qualified assent to the measure, 
and thus inadvertently misrepresented the feeling of their 

* Newport Town Records, September 3, 1765, p. 804. 



CHAP, principals and increased the confidence of the ministry. 
x^HL rpi^g appointment of distributor was songht by the agents 
1765. for their friends, or conferred by the treasury department 
Sept. ^^pQj-^ prominent colonial as well as Crown officers. 
Even Franklin, specially instructed, as agent of Pennsyl- 
vania, to oppose the scheme of Parliamentary taxation, 
obtained the place of distributor for an intimate friend in 
Philadelphia. A request from the Treasury Board was 
14. sent to the governor of Rhode Island to aid in distributing 
the stamps, by appointing under-distributors in every 
town, who should give proper bonds and be kept well 
supplied with stamps, and to report any remissness in the 
execution of their office. 
16. One of the most important sessions ever held by the 
General Assembly was now convened at East Greenwich. 
Tlie governor was requested to issue a proclamation for 
the arrest of the recent rioters at Newport, and to prevent 
a recurrence of such disturbances. Metcalf Bowler, and 
Henry Ward, the secretary, were chosen as commissioners 
to attend the Congress at New York. Instructions were 
prepared by a committee' for their guidance, in which 
the loyalty of the Assembly to the King and Parliament 
are declared, yet " they would assert their rights and 
privileges with becoming freedom and spirit," and the 
delegates are directed " to express these sentiments in the 
strongest manner " in the Eepresentation and Address 
proposed to be made by the Congress to the home govern- 
ment.'' A committee was also appointed'' " to consider 
what is necessary to be done by this Assembly respecting 
the stamp act," and to report as soon as possible. They 
presented a series of six resolutions which, like the pre- 

^ Othniel Gorton, Daniel Jenckes, and Georf2;e Haszard. 
^ For a copy of these instructions as entered upon the Colony Records, 
see Appendix J. 

^ Benjamin Greene, of Newport, Job Randall, of Scituate, William Hall, 
of N. Kingston, Moses Brown, of Providence, and Henry Ward, the secre- 
tary of the colony and delegate to the congress. 



yious acts of Rhode Island, were more energetic and con- cilAr. 
cise than any that had yet been adopted by the other ^^1^ 
colonies, and i3ointed directly to an absolution of allegiance 1765. 
to the British crown, unless the grievances were removed.' 
Five of these were nearly in the terms of the instructions 
given by the town of Providence to their deputies. The 
Urst four had already been passed in Virginia, and the 
fifth, which had been otfered there by Patrick Henry, and 
passed by one vote, but was rescinded the next day, was 
adopted by the Providence town meeting, and unani- 
mously passed by the Assembly, as expressing precisely 
the views they were determined to maintain. This denied 
the right of any power but the General Assembly to levy 
taxes upon the colony, and absolved the people from 
obedience to any law, designed for that purpose, originat- 
ing from any other source. To these the Assembly added 
a sixth, directing the officers of the colony to proceed as 
usual in the execution of their trusts, and agreeing to 
save them harmless in so doing. This was bold legisla- 
tion, but the temper of the times and the spirit of the 
colony were correctly represented therein. 

The discovery of another bed of iron ore on the Paw- 
tuxet River, in Cranston, made early in the spring, was 
esteemed of great importance. A company was formed, 
and a furnace erected on the northern branch of the river, 
and the petitioners'^ Avere allowed to erect a permanent 
dam, provided they would construct a suitable passage 
for fish around it, and maintain the same from the tenth 
of April to tlie twentieth of May annually, agreeable to a 
law that had been in force for thirty years. 

Tha second General Congress, or convention of dele- 
gates from all the colonies, based on the principle of that 
held at Albany, about twenty years before, met at Xew 
York. Nine colonies were rej^resented, six by appoint- 

^ See Appendix K. 

^ Stephen Hopkins, Israel "Wilkinson, Nicholas and Moses Brown, for 
U.eniselves and their partners. 



CHAP, ment of tlieir leo^islatures, and three by individual action, 
win • • ^ 

^^^^^ Virginia and Kortli Carolina had had no session since the 
1765. Massacliusetts call was issued ; Georgia and New Hamp- 
shire also sent no delegates ; but all signified their appro- 
val of the design of the Congress, and their adhesion to 
its acts. The colonies represented, arranged themselves 
in geograpliical order, and each was allowed one vote. 
After a session of nearly three weeks, in which the great 
principles of " liberty, privileges, and prerogative " w^ere 
earnestly debated, the Congress adopted a Declaration of 
the Rights and Grievances of the Colonies. They de- 
nounced the idea of any representation except through 
their own legislatures as impracticable ; thus repelling 
the scheme proposed in Parliament by Pownall, formerly 
governor of Massacliusetts, for allowing them a direct 
representation in that body. They claimed, as the birth- 
right of Englishmen, that they should not be taxed with- 
out their own consent, and that the trial by jury should 
be preserved, unobstructed by the recent extension of the 
powers of Courts of Admiralty, where one judge alone, 
whose tenure of office was the royal will, presided, de- 
ciding, without a jury, both the law and the fact, and 
taking commissioijs upon all condemnations. These 
ideas were embodied in an address to the King, and 
in memoi-ials to each House of Parliament, which, being 
signed by most of the delegates whose powers per- 
mitted them to do so, were forwarded to England.^ News 
of the opposition to the stamp act having reached Eng- 
land, the ministry, divided in their views of its justice or 
policy, hesitated to enforce it by an appeal to arms. The 
time was drawing near when it w^as to take efiect. A 
circular w^as despatched^ to all the American governors, 

' The resolutions adopted by the Convention, October 19, 1*765, with 
the address to the King, the memorial to the House of Lords, and the peti- 
tion to the House of Commons are printed in the Appendix to Hutchinson's 
Hist, of Mass., vol. iii. pp. 479-487. Lond. Edit. 1828. 

Conway's Circular, October 24, 1765. Letters, 1763-75, No. 35. 



counselling " lenient and persuasive methods," in order CHAP, 
to restore ])eace, but in case of further violent outbreaks 
to employ " a timely exertion of force ; " for whicli })ur- IT*;."), 
j^ose they were to call upon Gen. Gage or Lord Colville ^25^' 
for assistance. The day following the issue of this cautious 
and somewhat undecided circular, the Congress at Kew 
York adjourned, and at the earliest opportunity their 
proceedings were reported to the several legislatures, by 
whom they were cordially approved. In the Assembly 
of Rhode Island the report of the delegates was entered 30. 
upon the records, and copies of the journal and of the 
memorials were filed with it in the secretary's office, not 
to be made public before information of their presentation 
in England should be received. Copies of these addresses 
were also sent to the agent in London, with the request 
that he would unite with the other agents in presenting 
and enforcing them, and to employ counsel for that pur- 
pose. The thanks of the colony were voted to Col. Barre 
for his spirited defence of their rights in the House of 
Commons. This was in accordance with the Providence 
instructions to their deputies in August. A day of public 
thanksgiving was appointed, in whicli prayers for " a 
blessing upon the endeavors of this colony for preserving 
their valuable pri^dleges," were to be ofiered. The day 
before the stamp act was to take effect, all the royal gov- 
ernors, with Fitch of Connecticut, took the oath to sustain 31^ 
It. Samuel Ward, " the governor of Rhode Island, stood 
alone in his patriotic refusal." ^ But the people had 
already settled the question. The fatal day dawned upon ^o^'- 
a nation united in their determination of resistance. Kot 
a stamp was to be seen. Everywhere the distributors 
had resigned, some by force, and others of their own free- 
will. The wheels of every government in America were 
stopped at once. Commerce was crushed, law was an- 
nulled, justice was delayed, even the usages of domestic 

^ Bancroft's History U. S., vol. v., p. 351. 



CHAP, life were suspended by this anomalous and terrible 'act. 

III. ]s^Q^ ^ g|j-p could sail, not a statute could be enforced, not 
1765. a court could sit, nor even a marriage take place, tliat 
was not in itself illegal, so far as tlie British Parliament 
could make it so ; for* every one of these acts required 
the evidence of stamped paper to establish its validity. 

But yet further demonstrations were necessary to bring 
tlie people and government of Great Britain to their 
senses. JSTon-importation agreements were at once entered 
into by the leading merchants in America, following the 
example of New York ; and a combination for the sup- 
port of American manufactures, and to increase the sup- 
ply of wool, by ceasing to consume lamb or mutton, was 
soon afterwards formed. Riots occurred in New York, 
resulting in the surrender of the stamped paper by Lieu- 
tenant-governor Golden, with the sanction of Gen. Gage 
himself, to the municipal authorities, amid shouts of 
" Liberty, Property, and no Stamps." In Newport, at a 
4. town meeting, over which the governor presided, a mili- 
tary guard was established, and a night patrol organized 
g to preserve the peace. Gunpowder-Treason-niglit had 
always been a time of festivity, and it was feared that a 
tumult might occur, but the occasion passed off quietly. 
The revenue officers, feeling bound by the act of Par- 

21. liament, addressed a letter to Augustus Johnston, distrib- 
utor of stamps for Phode Island, requiring him to supply 
tlie custom-house. lie replied, stating the circumstances 

22. of his resignation in August, and that the stamps for this 
colony were lodged for safe-keeping on board the Cygnet, 
so that he could not comply with their demand. The 
correspondence was submitted on the same day to Gov. 
Ward, with a request for his advice what course to pursue. 

28. The day appointed for thanksgiving was duly celebrated. 
The triumph over an unjust and unconstitutional act, was 
complete in Phode Island where, under the sixth resolu- 

Dec. tion of the September Assembly, the judicial courts held 
their regular terms, unawed by the feeling which, in the 



other colonies, suspended, for a time, that department of CHAP, 
their several governments. 

At the opening of Parliament, attention was directed ITOO. 
to American affairs, but it was not till after the holidays, 
that the great debate commenced, which lasted through 
several weeks. Grenville, the late prime minister, and 
author of the stamp act, opposed with much bitt^'ness 
the motion for its repeal. The now venerable Pitf, un- 
connected with any party, but still the most powerful 
man in the kingdom, was in his seat to pronounce that 
magnificent speech, the crowning eifort of his nobl^mind, 
in Avhich he " rejoiced that America has resisted," and 
declared " that England has no right to tax the colonies." 
In the course of the debate. Franklin was brought before Feb. 
the House of Commons, and sustained a long examination 
upon the condition and temper of America, which pro- 
duced a marked effect npon the feelings of the House. 
It was in this debate, too, that Edmund Burke first ^dis- 
played his splendid oratory in the cause of the colonies. 
The repeal was carried in the Commons by a majority of ^2. 
one hundred and eight, and later in the Lords by nHiety- 
four votes ; ^ but it was accompanied by a declaratory act, 
asserting the right of Parliament " to bind the colonies in 
all cases whatsoever," and both bills i-eceived the iv)yal March 
assent on the same day. ^ 

The governor of Rhode Island had no stated salar 
but sums of money were voted to him from time to thne Feb. 
by the Assembly. Thirty pounds, a year was now voted 
to ex-governor Hopkins for former services, and the same 
amount to (^ov. Ward for the past year. To meet cur- 
rent expenses, the treasurer was empowered to hire one 
thousand pounds, or to issue bills of credit to that amount, 
redeemable in two years by taxation. Organizations' 
under the name of " Sons of Liberty," a term first ap- 
plied to the Americans by Col. Barre in his famous speech 

^ Botta's History cf the War of Independence, i. 88. 





CHAP, against the stamp act, had sprung up in all the colonies ; 
but we believe that to Ehode Island was reserved the 

1766. peculiar honor of initiating a similar order, composed of 
the gentler sex, known as " the daughters of liberty." Its 
origin is ascribed to Dr. Ephraim Bowen, at whose house 
eighteen young ladies, belonging to prominent families in 

March Providence, assembled by invitation, and employed the 
^' time from sunrise till evening in spinning. They re- 
solved to purchase no more British manufactures, unless 
the stamp act should be repealed, and adopted other reso- 
hitions, perhaps more patriotic than prudent, to accom- 
plish this desirable end. They were handsomely enter- 
tained by the doctor at dinner, but cheerfully agreed to 
omit tea at the evening meal, to render their conduct yet 
more consistent. The association rapidly increased in 
numbers, so that their next meeting was held at the court- 
house. This was for the purpose of spinning a handsome 
piece of linen as a premium for the person w^ho should 
raise the largest amount of flax during the year, in the 
county of Providence.' Thus the spirit of resistance per- 
vaded every portion of society, and the determination to 
oppose the stamp act, even to " the destruction of the 
union" of the colonies with the mother country, was de- 
clared at a meeting in Providence held at this time. 
" Liberty Trees," so called from the great elm in Boston, 
where the opponents of the stamp act were wont to as- 
semble, began to be set up. In Newport, Capt. AVilliam 
Read, a deputy from that town, gave a piece of land for 
the purpose of planting a tree of liberty, and the patriotic 
impulse was followed in other places. The circular an- 
31^ nouncing the repeal of the stamp act, and the passage of 
the declaratory act, also gave notice of a bill, then under 
discussion, and soon afterward passed, to revise the trade 
laws in favor of the colonies. This was skilfully used by 
Conway as a proof of the good-will and forgiveness of 

^ Boston Chronicle, April 7, 1766. 



Par iciiiieiit, and as an occasion for the display of grati- chap. 
tilde from the colonists. But the chief object of his ver- JJ,!^ 
bose paper was to urge the colonies to accede quietly to '17G6. 
a bill, obliging their legislatures to indenniify the sufferers 
by the late stamp act riots ; and gratitude was bespoken 
in their behalf by the Secretary, because their evidence 
had been given dispassionately in favor of a repeal of the 
act. About this time a paper mill was established at 
Olneyville near Providence. The revision of the Acts 
of Trade was soon completed, and Sherwood, the faithful May 9. 
agent of Phode Island, enclosing a copy of the resolu- 
tions, congratulates the colony " that every grievance is 
now absolutely and totally removed." ^ The duty on 
molasses was reduced to one penny a gallon, that upon 
sugar, coffee, and spice was modified, and other altera- 
tions were made, favorable to colonial commerce. 

At the annual election, the same officers were con- 7. 
tinned. When the news of the repeal of the stamp act 16. 
reached America, unbounded joy pervaded the colonies. 
The declaratory act, entitled an act " securing the depend- 
ency of the colonies," wdiich accompanied it, was con- 
sidered as a merely formal matter. In Providence tlie 
anniversary of the king's birth was selected as a day of June 
public rejoicing, to attest at once the loyalty of the peo- ^* 
pie, and their love of liberty. Bells, cannon, flags, mar- 
tial music, a ]3rocession, and a discourse at the Presbyte- 
rian church, after which the i3eople returned to the court- 
house, where his Majesty's health w^as drank, with a royal 
salute of twenty-one guns, occupied the morning. The 
afternoon was spent in drinking thirty -two loyal and 
patiiotic toasts, accompanied by the discharge of cannon, 
the sound of drum and trumpets, and the wild huzzas of 
the delighted and excited multitude. In the evening there 
was a grand display of fireworks at the court-house, and 
an elegant boiled collation," after which, at eleven 

^ Sherwood to Rhode Island, Letter 45. 



CHAP, o'clock the company retired. The next evenino^ a ^and 
^^^^^ ball Avas given to the " Daughters of Liberty," at wliicli 
1766. there " was the most brilliant appearance of ladies this 
town ever saw." ' In Kewport, and elsewhere, similar 
9. rejoicings took place. The Assembly adopted " an hum- 
ble address of thanks to His Majesty" for the repeal of 
the stamp act, and voted their thanks to the merchants of 
London for their exertions in favor of America. An ap- 
propriation was made to build a new court-house in Bris- 
tol, upon the site of the old one. A public thanksgiving 
26. was held throughout the colony, by proclamation of the 
governor at the request of the Assembly, " in acknowledg- 
ment to the Supreme Being for the repeal of the late act 
of Parliament imposing stamp duties." 

For ten years the colony had vainly applied for its 
proportion of the military allowance, long since paid to 
the other colonies, for the campaign of 1756. A difficulty 
in adjusting the accounts according to the Treasury regu- 
lations, had prevented the payment at the proper time, 
and the enormous war expenses of subsequent years had 
caused it to be delayed. The indefatigable Sherwood at 
length obtained a favorable report from the war office, al- 
lowing, after many deductions, the sum of twenty-six 
hundred and seventy-three pounds sterling, to be due to 
July Bhode Island. But the Treasury Board still refused to 
pay the money, alleging to the agent, as a reason for 
delay, that as a requisition had been sent by the crown to 
the colony to indemnify the officers who had suffered in 
the late riots, the government would w^ait to see what 
action was taken upon it by the Assembly. This step was 
fatal to the claim, for reasons that will presently appear. 

Another change in the ministry, brought about chiefly 
by the aspect of American affairs, now took place. The 
venerable Pitt again became prime minister, receiving 
29. from the king, at the same time, a place in the peerage 

^ Providence Gazette — revived, August 19, 1766. Staple's Annals, 215. 



with tlie title of Earl of Chatham, for acceptiiio; which he CIIAP. 


was severely but unjustly censured. Conway gladly ex- ^^.^ 
changed his difficult post as Secretary for the colonies, 1766. 
which was taken by the Earl of Shelburne, while he, 
accepting another position in the State department, be- 
came leader of the House of Commons. Charles Town- 
shend, who as one of theGrenville ministry, had supported 
the stamp act, but latterly had advocated its repeal, became 
Chancellor of the Excliecpier, with the Duke of Grafton 
as First Lord of the Treasury, and Camden, the eloquent 
defender of America in the House of Peers, was made 
Lord Chancellor. Lower places were assigned to Col. 
Barre, to Lord North, and many others. This cabinet, 
although denounced by Burke as " a piece of diversified 
mosaic," was the most liberal that England had yet seen ; 
and could it have remained without the later modifica- 
tions to which it was subjected, America might have had 
no further cause of complaint. But Pitt, whose failing 
health and advancing years had led him to seek refuge 
from the stormy Commons, in the quiet seclusion of the 
Peers, could no longer direct afiPairs with the energy 
that had once made England great and himself all-power- 
ful. The liberal portion of his ministry soon lost ground 
before the more active supporters of prerogative who 
composed it, so that it had been better for his fame, and 
happier for America, at the time, had the Earl of Chat- 
ham never assumed the seals. 

Heretofore the official correspondence between the 
colonies and the home government had been conducted 
w^ith the Board of Trade. An order in council now re- Aus. 
pealed the regulation under which this had been done, ^• 
and required all such communications to be addressed 
directly to the king. 

Seventy years before, Samuel Sewall of Boston, one of 
the original purchasers of Pettaquamscot, had given five 
hundred acres of land in Avhat was now the town of 
^ ^ Exeter, to maintain a grammar-school for the children of 




CHAP, tlie inhabitants upon tliat purchase. The gift had long 
lain neglected, but was now revived by petition to the 
1766. Assembly that proper powers might be conferred to carry 
bept. ^^^^ ^Yie design of the donor. Any magistrate of the 
county was empowered, at the call of any five freeholders 
residing within the old purchase, to summon a meeting of 
the inhabitants, who might choose proper officers and do 
all other acts necessary to carry out the benevolent pur- 
poses of the grantor. At the next session the town of 
Oct. Exeter had leave to build a school-house, near the east 
end of the town, on the public highway, which was laid 
out ten rods wide. An act for the preservation of oysters 
was passed, forbidding them to be taken by drags, or 
otherwise than by tongs, under a penalty of ten pounds. 
Parents and masters were held liable for the violation of 
this law by their children or servants, and the owners of 
boats engaged in evading it were subject to a double fine. 
Barberry bushes being supposed to injure grain, a special 
act for their destruction in the town of Middletown was 
passed. Upon application of any freeholder, the person 
upon whose grounds they grew was required to cut them 
up within one month, or, in case of his neglect to do so, 
they might be destroyed, by warrant from a justice, at 
the expense of the complainant." ' 

The letter of the agent, announcing the award of 
money due to Rhode Island, and the reasons assigned by 
the Treasury Board for withliolding its payment, was laid 
before the Assembly. They rej^lied that no claims for 
redress had been made upon them, and when such were 
made in a proper manner, they should be duly considered ; 
that they could not conceive why the money should be 
detained, for that this delay was by no means submit- 
ting the sufferings of the persons recommended in his 
Majesty's instructions, to the determination of the Gen- 
eral Assembly ; " that this colony was in distress for the 

' Six years later, in August, 1772, the Assembly extended this act over 
the whole co'o:iy. 



money, having expended largely in the late war on the CHAP, 
faith of promises which had long since been redeemed as 
to the other colonies ; that the mob were not encouraged 1766. 
by people of position, as had been asserted ; and that the 
assurance of this Assembly, upon that point, was entitled 
to as much weight as were the suggestions of their 
enemies across the sea. Letters to this effect were sent to 
the agent, to the Lords of the Treasury, and to the colo- 
nial secretary. It was the spirited reply to an unmanly 
subterfuge on the 23art of the ministry, but it was fatal to 
the claimants on either side. As yet no petitions for in- 
demity had been presented, and when, at an adjourned 
session, in Providence, the three principal sufferers by Dec. 
the riot appeared w^ith their claims, Johnston and Moffat ^' 
in person, and Howard by attorney, no notice w^hatever 
w^as taken of their complaints. The newspapers report 
that the petitioners " were referred to next session, that 
the inhabitants of the colony might direct their representa^ 
tives therein," but not a w^ord appears upon the records 
of this, nor of any subsequent session for more than eight 
months, to show that the matter was brought before them. 
The Assembly and the people were thoroughly aroused 
at the injustice of the proceedings, and preferred to sacri- 
fice their own admitted claims rather than submit to this 
unusual and arbitrary mode of forcing from them an act 
of justice.^ 

A tax ordered at the last session was now apportioned 

^ It is from other sources than the colony records that we learn that. 
Howard's claim amounted to £970, Moffat's to £1,310, and Johnston's to 
£373 Is. 3d, a total of £2,653 Is. 3d, of which £890 were charged by the 
two former for their trip to England. A committee reported upon Moffat's 
claim in December, 1772, with a list of items amounting to £179 10s. 6d. 
which was voted to be paid. Another committee in August, 1773, reported 
upon the claims of Howard and Johnston, reducing the former to £111 18s., 
and the latter to £76 10s., which sums were voted "to be paid when and 
as soon as the General Assembly shall receive information that the money 
due from the crown to the colony for their services in the expedition against 
Crown Point, in the year 1756, shall be received by the agent of this colony 
in Great Britain." 



CHAP, among the towns. Six thousand pounds, lawful money, 
^^.^ and seventy-five thousand in old tenor were assessed upon 
1767. the colony to be paid in these bills respectively, to redeem 
the treasurer's notes given for the former and the old ten 
per cent, bonds, yet outstanding, issued for the latter. 
This, like most of the recent tax acts, was protested 
against by many deputies, chiefly because it was appor- 
tioned without regard to the valuation made four years 
previously as a guide for taxation. Such a departure from 
a settled rule was considered to be a dangerous precedent, 
and an arbitrary act on the part of the administration. 
It lost them the power at the next election. To counter- 
feit any coin, or knowingly to pass any such, was made a 
caj)ital oifence, and to cut or divide coin, which was often 
done in order to make small change, was prohibited under 
a penalty of ten times the value. The new digest of laws, 
wdiich had occupied a committee for several months, was 
completed in SejJtember, and a committee was then ap- 
pointed to examine it. It was a work of great labor, as 
appears by the reports of the revising and examining com- 
mittees made in October, and was far more complete than 
any digest before attempted. Two hundred copies were 
now ordered to be printed and distributed throughout the 

Peb. Protection to the fisheries was always an object of at- 
tention with the General Assembly. An act to prevent 
tlie Pawtuxet and Pawcatuck Pivers from being obstruct- 
ed by wears or seines, so as to prevent the passage offish 
in the spring, was enforced by a penalty of fifty pounds. 
As each emission of hiwful money bills of credit, most of 
which had five years to run, was about to mature, meas- 
ures w^ere taken to redeem them, either by immediate 
taxation, or by issuing treasury notes to be exchanged for 
them ; a process which was a virtual extension of the 
IdIIIs. The paper now falling due, was ordered to be re- 
deemed in this manner. The treasurer was to issue his 
notes at six per cent, interest, to be paid in two years by 




a tax on the colony ; and to counterfeit these notes was CIIAF, 
liable to the same punishment as for counterfeiting the 
hills. A new issue of two thousand pounds in bills of 1767. 
credit, payable in two years was made, to su})ply the -^^g^* 

The anni\'ersary of the repeal of the stamp act was Mar. 
celebrated with great rejoicings, similar to those that fol- 1^* 
lowed the reception of the news. This occasion, the first 
triumph of successful resistance, continued for several 
years to be observed as a holiday. Since the act' requir- 
ing the general officers to be voted for on town meeting 
day, instead of the first Wednesday in May, the third 
Wednesday in April had become the period of decisive 
political struggle, while election day," as it still con- 
tinues from ancient habit to be called, ceased to be any 
thing more than the occasion for the official promulgation 
of the result, and the inauguration of the new government 
at Newport. At this election the Hopkins party were re- April 
instated by over four hundred majority, the largest that 
had been obtained on either side during the controversy. 
The strength of Hopkins lay in the north. In Providence 
not a single vote was cast at this time for his opponent^, 
while Ward was strongest in Newport, where he polled 
three times as many votes as his adversary, and obtained 
a majority of nearly two hundred. Stephen Hopkins was 
again declared governor, and Joseph Wanton, jr., deputy- Mav^. 
governor. The entire list of teii assistants was also 
changed. The political revolution was complete. The 
tax act had destroyed the Ward party, and the profes- 
sions of their opponents to be " Seekers of Peace," — a 
motto inscribed upon the Hopkins tickets — insured suc- 
cess. This profession was honorably redeemed by the 
victors in withdrawing, at the close of the year, for the 
sake of peace, from future contests. The new govern- 
ment committed a serious error at the outset in allowing- 

^ Passed, August 18, 1760. 
VOL. II. — 54 



CHAP, those towns which were in arrears for the last two taxes, 
^^^^ to pay their proportion according to the estimate made five 
1767. years before, thereby invalidating the subsequent tax acts 
of the Assembly, and weakening its power. A strong and 
numerously signed protest was entered against this pro- 
ceeding. It was certainly carrying party spij-it to a dan- 
gerous extent, and operatod unjustly upon tliose towns 
that had already paid according to the later laws. At 
the same time they passed an order for a new valuation 
June of ratable property to l)e made. The bill was brought 
in at the next session. It levied a poll tax upon all males 
over eighteen years of age, except settled ministers, and a 
property tax to be estinjated as follows : The annual rent of 
all kinds of real estate was to be determined, and the value 
of improved lands to be estimated as equal to twenty years 
rent ; of houses, wharves, mills, (fee, at fifteen years rent ; 
personal estate, slaves, w^aste lands, and trading stock, 
except ships and cargoes at sea which were put at two- 
thirds value, were to be taxed at their full value. Debts 
were to be deducted from the personal estate. Sworn 
lists were to be rendered by every tax-payer, or if re- 
fused, the assessors were to fix their own valuation with- 
out remedy, and the offender was to be taxed fourfold. 
A protest was entered against this project, chiefly on the 
ground that it favored the traders at the expense of the 
landowners. A lottery was granted to raise twenty-five 
hundred dollars for putting a new steeple upon Trinity 
Church, the old one being much decayed. The rate of 
29 interest was fixed at six per cent, and usurious contracts 
subjected the lender to the loss of principal and interest. 
"When North Providence was set off from Providence, 
some of the compact portion of the latter town was in- 
■ eluded in the former. A petition for restoration was 
granted, and a new boundary established, conforming 
very nearly with that now existing. The right to use the 
north burial-ground as a cemetery and parade-ground 
was extended to the people of IS'orth Providence. 



Meanwliile measures were in prom-ess in En^jjland to chap. 

prove that the clechiratory act was something more than a ; 

mere formality. Parliament, liaving therein asserted the 1767. 
abstract right to hind America, were pre})aring to test its 
reality. The opposers of the stamp act, Pitt especially, 
had taken a distinction, more nice than wise in its appli- 
cation to the colonies, between external and internal taxes. 
Townshend, upon whom, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
devolved the proposal of w^ays and means, availed him- 
self of this distinction to raise a revenue in America by 
means of custom duties, which should be applied to sup- 
port the civil officers in the colonies, and thus make them 
independent of the local assemblies. To this end he pro- May 
23osed a small duty on glass, lead, paints, and paper, and 
that the export duty of one shilling a pound on tea sent 
from England should be removed, and an import duty of 
threepence a pound placed upon it in America. This, 
while it really lessened the burden upon the American 
consumer, made the tax, greatly diminished as it was, 
more palpable, besides putting a stop to smuggling tea 
from the Dutch. He also proposed a Board of Commis- 
sioners of Customs, having the same powers with that in 
England, who should prevent illegal traffic, and determine 
disputes, now carried to England, with less cost and 
trouble to the parties. These were the two leading meas- 
ures of the government, in introducing which their author 
denounced several of the colonies for acts of insubordina- 
tion, and among them Phode Island for having postponed 
making indemnity to the sufferers in the late riots. But 
these were passed over, while an example was to be made 
of New York for refusing entire compliance with the 
billeting act, requiring provision to be made for a large 
number of royal troops to be quartered in that city. Dur- 
ing the late war, soldiers had been cheerfully billeted in 
all the colonies, for which indemnity was allowed ; but 
an act requiring them to be supported by the colonies, in 
fact establishing a standing army, now that the occasion 



CHAP, for it liacl passed, was deemed a grievance, and N^ew York 
^^^^^ refused to provide for more than a limited nnmber. To 
1767. pnnisli her for this incontumacy, Townshend moved that 
the legislative power of the IS^ew York Assembly be sus- 
pended until they would comply with the billeting act. 
July Tliese three measures were passed, and in the bill organ- 
izing the customs commissioners, a clause was inserted, 
legalizing the writs of assistance, against which the first 
murmur of discontent in the colonies had been raised by 
Aug. the merchants of Boston. Notice of the passage of these 
acts was given by Sherwood in a letter that contains 
also a censure from the ministry on the conduct of Rhode 
Island in j)rosecuting the collector Eobinson. The As- 
31. sembly, by order of the Treasury Board, appointed a com- 
mittee to examine the complaint made by him against the 
Judge of the Court of Yice-Admiralty, and the Attorney 
General. Disagreements between the colonial and reve- 
nue officers were incessant, and mutual recriminations 
were constantly made to the home government, of hin- 
drance in collecting duties and of tyranny in the mode of 
exacting them. To trace the manifold phases that these 
troubles assumed, would be both tedious and useless. 
They present the opposite sides of the same principle — 
resistance to the Acts of Trade on one hand, and the de- 
termination to enforce them at all hazards on the other — 
w^ith very much of wrong-dealing upon botli.^ 

The three principal sufferers by the stamp act riot had 
again presented their claims at the June session, and were 
ordered to bring in an account with items under oath. 

^ Upon this particular complaint the committee reported in October that 
no ground for it existed. The collector refused to attend the meeting of 
the committee, and the Assembly "having no knowledge of any prosecution 
had against that gentleman, either by the Assembly or the Magistracy," 
ordered the sherilF to wait upon Mr. Robinson with a copy of the agent's 
letter, "and request his answer, whether he has any knowledge of any such 
complaint being made," and if so, to require a copy thereof. A copy of this 
note was sent to the agent in England, and the governor was requested to 
write to the ministry on the subject if he thought best. 



Having failed to do tliis, the claim was again deferred, ciiA?. 
and the first vote upon the subject that appears upon the 
records, now required them to fulfil the former order as 1767. 
soon as possible. 

The Warren Association of Baptist Churches, the Sept. 
earliest of its kind in New England, had its first celebra- 
tion this year at Warren. It originated with the Warren 
chui'cli,' and had for its object to secure for the denomina- 
tion in the neighboring colonies those civil and religious 
rights hitherto enjoyed solely by the established church. 
The location of the College at Warren, made this town 
the centre of Baptist influence in this region, and a proper 
place for the initiation of such an enterprise. The an- 
nual meeting was appointed for the first Tuesday after 
commencement, as that occasion drew together many 
leading men of the church from all parts of the country. 
In a few years the Association extended over Kew Eng- 
land, and held its meetings at various places. It became 
an active body in*tlie cause of civil and religious liberty, 
presenting many able addresses upon this subject to the 
government of Massachusetts and to the Continental Con- 
gress through the whole period of the revolution. Al- 
though the Association has no longer that intimate con- 
nection with the university which at first existed, and 
the growth of Baptist churches in New England has given 
rise to many other similar associations, the parent body 
still continues to exert a wide-spread and beneficent in- 
fiuence over the objects of its charge. 

At this crisis, just as the fatal' acts that were destined 
to rapture the British empire Avere adopted in Parliament, 
their gifted but erring author closed his brilliant career. 4. 
Had the death of Charles Townshend occurred at the 
opening, instead of the close of that memorable session, 
how difi'erent might have been the fortunes of England ! 

' August 28, 1766, the Warren Church voted " That an association be 
entered into with sundry churches of the same faith and order, as it was 
judged a likely method to promote the peace of the churches." 



CHAP. A circular from the treasury enclosed a copy of tlie Board 
Will ^ ^ " 

of Eeveiiue act. Tlie-cumiiiissioners were stationed at 

1767. Boston as being alike the centre of commerce and of dis- 
content. John Bobinson, the collector of Newport, was 
appointed one of the new Board. The Assembly took no 
immediate notice of these recent acts of Barliament, but 
28. on the same day that it met, a new moyement was com- 
menced by the people of Boston. Goy. Bernard had re- 
fused to call a special session of the General Court to con- 
sider the obnoxious measures. A public meeting was 
therefore held to deyise plans for the encouragement of 
industry, economy, and manufactures. It was resolyed 
to discoiitinue the importation of British goods, and the 
consummation of all unnecessary articles. Mourning apparel 
was discountenanced, as being wholly of English manufac- 
ture, and means were taken to procure the adhesion of 
other communities to this legal, peaceful, but effectual 
N"ov. mode of nullifying the duty act. The arriyal of the 
^- revenue commissioners at Boston caused no excitement, 
20. and when the day came, upon which the act was to take 
effect, there were no duties to be paid, and no orders upon 
which they might accrue had been sent out. Proyidence 
25. soon followed the example of Boston,^ and the next day 
2g Newport appointed a connnittee on the same subject to 
report at a future meeting. A placard was put up on the 
27 door of the court-house the following night, urging tlie 
])eople to seize the money in the custom-house " by way 
of reprisal for the money due this colony from the 
crown." The riotous appeal was not regarded, and at the 
Dec. adjourned meeting a reward of fifty pounds was offered for 
^- the arrest of the author. The thanks of the town were 
sent to the council of Boston for their " w^ise and whole- 
some " recommendations, and resolutions similar to those 
therein proposed were adopted, and sent to each town in 
the colony for their concurrence. Thus the combination 

^ The Providence ngreement was signed December 2d. The measure 
was to take effect in Rhode Island, January 1, 1768. 



spread ra])idly tlirou<>'liout the colonies, and the a^^ree- chap. 
ments were everywhere signed. The cause of revolution 
received a powerful impulse from the pen of John Dick- 1707. 
inson of Pennsylvania, whose letters against Parliamen- 
tary taxation, over the signature of " A Farmer," were 
universally circulated in pamphlet form, and republished 
in all the newspapers. 

At the October session, the Assembly had required 
Ninio^ret to execute a deed of the Indian school-house lot 
in Charlestown to the colony, and had also appointed a 
committee to settle the accounts of the Sachem, by pay- 
ing his debts with his personal property, so far as it would 
go, and selling lands to satisfy the remainder. This was 
considered so great a grievance by the tribe, that they Dec. 
resolved, by the advice of Sir William Johnson, to send ^• 
Tobias Shattock to England as their agent, to seek redress 
from the king.' George Rome, who had been a resident 
of the colony for six years as agent for creditors in Eng- 
land, and had been unfortunate in his efforts to recover 
their claims before the courts or the Assembly, wrote a 22. 
very long and severe letter, probably to Dr. Moffat, in 
which he unsparingly denounced the courts and govern- 
ment of this colony, (but making honorable exception of 
James Ilelme, Chief Justice of the Superior Court,) and 
the rebellious spirit of all the colonies, and urged the es- 
tablishment of royal governments throughout America as 
the only mode of averting impending evil.^ A copy of 
this letter, with others written against the colonies, was 
obtained in England nearly six years later by parties 
resolved to learn a\1io were the enemies of America. 
Home's letter was then printed, and was the first positive 
evidence discovered respecting the persons who, tln-ee 
years before this time, had been reported to the Assembly 
as having petitioned for a revocation of the charter. 

^ Shattock's letter to the committee, December 8, read December 29, 
1767. Letters, 54. 

- Trumbull papers, vol. xxiii. Xo. 21, 


CHAP. A vigorous effort in behalf of free schools was now 
made in Providence. At the adjourned meeting that 
1767. adopted the resolutions in favor of industry and economy, 

Dec. 2. 1^ ^^,^g proposed to establish four public schools in the town. 
• j*^^^-^ The committee to w4iom the subject was referred, re- 
ported a plan which was approved, but found too costly 
for the existing state of the treasury.' The design " of a 
free school supported by a tax, was rejected by the 
poorer sort of the people, being strongly led away, not to 
see their own as well as the public interest therein." But, 
notwithstanding the opposition of these objectors, one 
large school was voted at once, and it was shown that its 
cost would be more than saved by the citizens if they 
should all unite in the project just agreed to, for promo- 
ting economy. A brick school-house was erected during 
the summer, and the oversight of the public, and also of 
the private schools, A\ as placed in charge of a committee 
of nine, of whom the town council formed a part.^ Thus 
freedom and education went hand in hand with industry 
and economy, in the minds of the fathers of the revolution. 
A census of the town showed its population to be little 
short of three thousand.* 

' Providence Gazette of January 2d and 9th, 1768. 

" Moses Brown's memorandum appended to Governor Bowen's report, 
Staples' Annals, pp. 500. 

^ The proprietors, who, with the town, had erected this building, were 
incorporated February 26, 1770. The house was two stories high, and the 
upper story was occupied for a private school, the lower as a free school. 

* Men over 21 years of age, 

. 530 

Women do. 


Young men from 14 to 21, 

. 217 

Do. women do. do., 


Boys between 5 and 14, 

. 302 

Girls do. do. 


Children under 5 years, 

. 470 

Blacks — males, 


Do., females, 



Providence Gazette, January 2, 1768. 




Tlie business of the coloiiics had become so pressing, cirAP. 

that a third secretary was necessary upon whom the Ameri- JJ^l^Iil; 

can department alone should devolve, and the Earl of Hills- 1708. 

borough was appointed to the place. Other changes in 

the cabinet occurred, and Lord North reluctantly assumed 

the delicate post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. The 

first movement of the new secretary was to notifv the J^"- 

. 23 
colonies of his appointment, and to require from Rhode 

Island a transcript of her laws. Tlie General Court of 
Massachusetts, after maturely deliberating on the condi- 
tion of the province, and adopting a petition to the king, 
addressed a circular to the other colonial assemblies, in- 
viting co-operation in the assertion of their rights. The 
Rhode Island Assembly at once responded to this appeal 
by preparing " a suitable address to his Majesty, and 
also a letter to " the ministry, stating the grievances of the 29. 

A patent right for fourteen years was granted to 
Sanmel Jackson and others, to dig coal from a mine sup- 
posed to exist in Providence ; but the indications of coal 
in this vicinity proved to be fallacious. At the October 
session, Gov. Hopkins had intimated his intention of no 
longer being a candidate for the chief magistracy.^ Since 
the death of Gov. Greene, the personal contest between 
Gov. Ward and himself had lasted ten years, in seven of 
which he had triumphed. The position of the colony re- 
quired that this bitter feud should be quelled. He there- 
fore proposed a union of the factions by the withdi-awal 
of each of their leaders, either of whom, as might be 
agreed, should nominate a governor from the friends of 
the other, and these in turn should name a deputy-govern- 
or from the opposite side ; the assistants, in like manner, 
to be equally apportioned between the two parties. The 
plan was adopted at the spring election, and the famous 
controversy between Ward and Hopkins ceased forever, April 

' G. Rome's letter of December 22, 1767. 


CHAP, in the presence of a more momentous struggle, in wliich 
^^^^^ the State was soon to be involved. This consolidation of 
1768. political parties, that for so long a period had divided the 
counsels of the colony, was a movement so significant of 
the future, that it may well form an era, and invite a 
pause, in the course of our history. The most violent 
party strife that for a century had distracted the popular 
mind, was suddenly hushed in view of the portentous 
conflict about to commence. As the fury of contending 
armies has sometimes been restrained by the wilder up- 
roar of the elements, so the hostile factions in Rhode 
Island were awed into peace by the threatening storm 
about to overwhelm the colony. That the idea of inde- 
pendence had become familiar to the public mind, co- 
temporary papers fully prove, and positive legislation was 
soon to establish. That the present realization of this 
idea was contingent upon the action of the British minis- 
try, whether to yield or to persist in the exercise of arbi- 
trary power, is equally certain. Absolute independence 
w^as only desired as a remedy for evils wdiich might yet 
be averted. But the temper of England warned the more 
thoughtful colonists that the disposition to alleviate their 
burdens could only be purchased by concessions, which, 
as freemen and as Englishmen, they could not offer. Un- 
conditional submission to the authority of Parliament, 
taxation w^ithout representation, and the support of stand- 
ing armies in time of peace, were measures so subversive 
of the principles of Magna Charta, that another Buny- 
mede, with the Parliament and the people in ^^lace of the 
king and his barons, appeared inevitable. What King 
John conceded, and thereby preserved a crown, George 
III. refused, and lost an empire. 

Union for resistance was the motive, if not the motto, 
of the coalition that was now perfected in Bhode Island, 
and ere long to extend throughout the continent. Fleets 
and armies were soon " to cover our shores and darken 
our land." Maddened at the bold and aj^parently defiant 



attitude of the colonies, Parliament and peoi)le together CIIAP. 
resolved to crush sedition before granting justice. The 
power that had so lately humbled France, and become 17C8. 
mistress of mankind, scorned the idea of armed resistance 
from feeble provincials, and thought to crush out liberty 
itself by a display of force. But England forgot that the 
great minister, whose genius had compassed her supre- 
macy, w^as the firmest friend of the principles she now 
hoped to subdue, and of the people she sought to conquer. 
His mighty mind had sunk beneath the weight of empire, 
and in a sad condition, almost of imbecility, he still re- 
tained the seals to be but a cipher in his cabinet. His 
wisdom could no longer guide the councils of the king, 
nor his energy direct the prosperity of the nation. Eng- 
land had forgotten, too, that a long series of desperate 
conflicts on the western continent had trained her trans- 
atlantic subjects to the use of arms, ^^^or did she under- 
stand the spirit of unanimity that could not only quell a 
protracted feud in her smallest colony, but which every- 
where pervaded her excited provinces. From the far 
south, skilled in border warfare with savage tribes, from 
the central colonies, richest in the appliances of resistance, 
and from populous and determined New England, one 
voice had gone forth, and one pregnant symbol had been 
adopted. " Join or Die," was now the universal motto, 
soon to give place to the last colonial battle-shout of 
" Liberty or Death." The capture of Cape Breton and 
the conquest of Canada, had taught the Americans the 
great lesson of self-reliance, and the same 

" — drums that beat at Louisburg, 
And thundered at Quebec," 

were soon to roll the charge on Bunker Hill, and rattle 
the reveille in Rhode Island. 





(from the colony records, page 343.) 

CHAP. It is Voted, and Resolved, That the following be the Instructions 
XVIII. to the Commissioners who shall be appointed by this Assembly, to 
""Jpp^ meet Commissioners of the other governments at New York : 


This Assembly taking into consideration the late Act of the Par- 
liament of Great Britain for levying stamp duties upon the Colonies 
in North America, and extending the jurisdiction of the Courts of 
Admiralty, are humbly of opinion, that the said Act is oppressive and 
injurious, and deprives us of some of our most essential Rights and 
Liberties; which we have enjoyed ever since the first settlement of 
the colony ; which have been confirmed by a Royal Charter, and 
have never been forfeited nor contested, but have ever been recog- 
nized by the King and Parliament of Great Britain. 

The House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts 
Bay, have proposed a meeting of committees appointed by the several 
British Colonies on this Continent, at New York, on the first Tues- 
day in October next, to consult together upon the present circum- 
stances of the colonies, and the difficulties to which they are, and must 
be reduced, by the operation of the said Act of Parliament; and to 
consider of a general and united, dutiful, h)yal, and Jiumble Represen- 
tation to his Majesty and the Parliament ; and to implore Relief. 

This Assembly, willing to exert themselves to the utmost for the 
preservation of their inestimable Rights and Liberties ; and having 
the pleasure to be informed tliat the Inhabitants of the other Colonies 
are actuated by the same principles ; that some of them have, and 
others are about appointing Commissioners for the aforesaid purpose; 
Have, and do hereby appoint you to be Commissioners in behalf of 
this Colony, to meet those that are or shall be appointed by the 
other Colonies, at the proposed Congress ; And do give you the fol- 
lowing Instructions and Directions to be observed by you in discharg- 
ing your trust, viz. : 



You are directed to repair to New York in such season as to be CHAP, 
ready to proceed upon business with the other Commissioners on the XVIII. 
first Tuesday in October next. APpT 

You are also directed, and fully empowered and authorized, to 
unite with the other Commissioners, or the major part of tlicm, in 
preparing snch an humble, dutiful, and royal Representation and Ad- 
dress as is above mentioned ; and to sign the same in behalf of this 
Colony : And also to join with the other Commissioners in taking the 
proper measures for laying the said Representation and Address be- 
fore His Majesty and the Parliament, at the first opening of the session. 

This xissembly have hearts filled with the sincerest afi'ection and 
loyalty to Flis Majesty, and have the highest sense of their subordina- 
tion to that august assembly the British Parliament ; Nevertheless, 
they would assert their Rights and Privileges with becoming freedom 
and spirit; And therefore you are directed to use your endeavors that 
the said Representation and Address express these sentiments in the 
strongest manner. 

You are farther directed to assure the other Commissioners that 
this General Assembly will give their Agent, in London, all necessary 
orders and power to enable him to co-operate with the Agents of the 
other Colonies, in every necessary measure for procuring relief in 
these important affairs. 

The general decay of trade and commerce, which is so severely 
felt in all the Plantations upon this Continent, induces us further to 
direct you : That if a majority of the other Commissioners sliall 
think it prudent to make any Representation to His Majesty and the 
Parliament upon that subject, you join with them in an humble, 
dutiful Address to procure the restrictions and burdens laid upon 
commerce to be alleviated. 

And further, if any other measure shall be proposed and agreed 
upon by the majority of the Commissioners who shall meet upon this 
occasion, for obtaining relief, you are hereby empowered to join and 
unite with them in such measures, if they shall appear to you reason- 
able and probable to answer the desired end. 

To you, gentlemen, this Assembly have committed Concerns of 
the last consequence to themselves, to their Constituents, and to Pos- 
terity ; And we hope the just sense you entertain of the importance 
of the Trust we have placed in you, will iwduce you to exert all your 
capacities to discharge it in such manner as to do Honor to yourselves, 
and service to the Colony. 





(from the colony records, page 346.) 

CHAP. This Assembly, taking into the most serious consideration, an Act 
XV'III. passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, at their last session, for 
^'^Yp" levying stamp duties, and other internal duties in North America; 
K. Do Resolve : 

1. That the first Adventurers, Settlers of this His Majesty's Colony 
and Dominion of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, brought 
with them and transmitted to their Posterity, and all other His Maj- 
esty's subjects since inhabiting in this His Majesty's Colony, all the 
privileges and immunities that have at any time been held, enjoyed, 
and possessed by the People of Great Britain. 

2. That by a Charter granted by King Charles the Second, in the 
15th year of his Reign, the Colony aforesaid is declared and entitled 
to all the Privileges and Immunities of natural born subjects, to all 
intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within 
the Realm of Enghmd. 

3. This His Majesty's liege People of this Colony have enjoyed 
the right of being governed by their own Assembly in the article of 
taxes and internal police ; and that the same hath never been forfeited 
or any other way yielded up, but hath been constantly recognized by 
the King and People of Great Britain. 

4. That, therefore, the General Assembly of this Colony have, in 
their representative capacity, the Only exclusive Right to lay taxes 
and imposts upon the Inhabitants of this Colony ; And that every 
attempt to vest such power in any Person or Persons whatever, 
other than the General Assembly aforesaid, is unconstitutional, and 
hath a manifest tendency to destroy the Liberties of the People of 
this Colony. 

5. That His Majesty's liege People, the inhabitants of this Colony, 
are not bound to yield obedience to any Law or Ordinance designed 
to impose any internal taxation whatsoever upon them, other than 
the laws and ordinances of the General Assembly aforesaid. 

6. That all the officers in this Colony, appointed by the authority 
thereof, be, and they are hereby directed, to proceed in the execution 
of their respective offices, in the same manner as usual ; And that this 
Assembly will indemnify and save harndess all the said oflficers on 
account of their conduct agreeable to this Resolution. 





The political amnesty concluded between the rival CHAP, 
governors, received the popular sanction by an over- 
whelming vote. Josias Lyndon was chosen governor by 1768. 
nearly fifteen hundred majority, carrying twenty-three ^q^'^ 
tow^ns. In the other five towns small majorities were 
given for the late deputy-governor, whose great popularity 
was signally attested during the next seven years. 
Nicholas Cooke was elected deputy-governor, and the 
assistants were equally divided among the partisans of 
the contending interests. 

When the Massachusetts circular, addressed to the 
other colonial assemblies, reached England, it gave great 15. 
offence to the government. Copies of it wei-e at once 
enclosed in a royal circular to the other twelve colonies, 21. 
denouncing it as " factious," and requiring the assemblies 
to treat it " with the contempt it deserves," by taking no 
notice of it. A clause, which does not appear in Hills- 
borough's circular to Rhode Island, further ordered the 
governors to dissolve their assemblies should they give 
countenance to the " seditious paper." ' In several colo- 

^ Bancroft's History of United States, vol. vi., p. 144. 


CHAP, nies tliis was done, and Massachnsetts was still further 

^^^^ connnanded to rescind tlie resolutions upon which the 
1768. aj^peal had been made, upon penalty of forfeiting its gov- 
ernment. So exasperated had the ministry become by 
this open attempt at combination, that no chance of recon- 
ciliation, or of any alleviation of the grievances that had 
caused it remained, while this measure continued unre- 
tracted. The last Parliament but one tliat was ever to 
legislate for America, was returned at this crisis. It was 
imbued with the same hostile spirit of its predecessor, and 
took early measures to coerce the colonies, wliom a little 
gentleness might still have retained. While such excited 
feelings existed in the two countries, it was natural that 
collisions should occur between the officers of one and the 

May 3. people of the other. A fatal affray between some people 
at Newport, and three midshipmen of the Senegal, man- 
of-war, lying in the harbor, resulted in the death of Henry 
Sparker, who was run through the body by an officer 
named Thomas Careless. The coroner's inquest returned 
a verdict of wilful murder. Another man was severely 
wounded. As the Superior Court did not meet till Sep- 
tendjer, the Assembly, upon petition of the prisoners, 
4. granted a special court for their trial in June, when they 
were acquitted on the ground of self-defence. The com- 
14. plaints of the Kevenue Board produced another circular 
from the ministry, calling on the respective governments 
to sustain the custom-house officers in the discliarge of 
SI. their duties. Charles Dudley was deputed by the Board 
to be collector and surveyor of Rhode Island in place of 
Bobinson, who had become one of the new commissioners. 

June A more serious result of these complaints was a peremp- 
^* tory order to Gen. Gage to send a regiment to Boston, 
and the despatch of a naval force by the Admiralty, to 
sustain Bernard. This was the first direct act of hostility 
against the colonies, soon to be followed by resistance on 
one hand, leading to greater rigor on the other. At the 
same time an affair occurred in Boston, which increased 



tlie hatred between the people and the offieials. Tlie chap- 
Eomney, a fiftj-gun sliip ordered from Halifax by the 
commissioners, impressed some New England seamen, one 1708. 
of whom was rescued. On the same evening, the sloop '^J^'J^ 
Liberty, belonging to John Hancock, was seized npon 
pretence of smuggling, and anchored nnder the guns of 
the Romney. A riot ensued, and the commissioners took 
refuge with the troops at Castle Island. No proceedings 
were had against the rioters, but the people in town meet- 
ing requested the governor to procure the withdrawal of 11. 
the Romney, which he had no power to do. The Gen- 
eral Court was then in session. The council condemned 
the conduct of the rioters, but the lower house took no 
notice of the matter. The Rhode Island Assembly met at 13 
the same time, but did not refer to these events, although 
the public mind was greatly agitated by them. The 
newspapers contained full accounts of all these transactions. 
At a town meeting in Providence, an address to John 
Dickinson was adopted, expressing a cordial concurrence 20. 
in the views maintained by him in the letters of " A 
Farmer," and concluding with the " hope that the conduct 
of the colonies on this occasion will be peaceable, prudent, 
firm, and joint ; such as will shew their loyalty to the best 
of Sovereigns, and that they know what they owe to 
themselves, as well as to Great Britain." For this ad- JqIj 7^ 
dress, Dickinson returned a letter of tlianks, commending 
the stand taken by the town of Providence in defence of 
their rights.' Similar addresses were sent to liim from all 
parts of the country. The circular that had been sent in 
behalf of the revenue officers in the several governments 
two months before, was now repeated in favor of the com- 11. 
missioners, npon whom the entire regulation of these sub- 
jects devolved. The spirit of resistance was gaining 
ground, and popular demonstrations for freedom were 
becoming frequent. A great elm in front of Olney's 25. 

^ Staples' Annals, 219-21 ; Providence Gazette, June 25, 1768. 
VOL. II. — 55 



CHAP, tavern in Providence was dedicated as a tree of liberty in 
^^^^ the presence of a large assemblage, before whom an ora- 
17G8. tion was pronounced by Silas Downer.' Upon news of 
the affair of the sloop Liberty reaching England, two 
more regiments were ordered from Ireland to be sent to 
Boston. The circulars addressed to the colonial governors 
had of late been submitted by them to their legislatures, 
and often become the basis of oifensive action. To pre- 
Sept. vent this, an order was issued, forbidding any letter, or 
^' portion thereof, from the ministry, to be shown to the 
assemblies without express permission from the King. 
12. Tlie adjourned session of the Rhode Island Assembly was 
rich in correspondence. An address to the King, praying 
relief from the recent revenue acts, with a letter to Hills- 
borough on the same subject, and another in reply to his 
about the Massachusetts circular, wherein the sentiments 
of that paper were defended, and regret was expressed 
that it had been denounced by the ministry as " factious 
or disloyal," were prepared. Replies to the late govern- 
ment circulars, on the obstructions offered to custom- 
jtj house officers, were also sent, denying that such hin- 
drances had occurred in this colony ; and copies of for- 
mer letters, relating to the action of the House in regard to 
the sufferers by the stamp act riot, and urging payment 
of the war money so long unjustly withheld from Rhode 
Island, were transmitted to the ministry. 

In obedience to the royal mandate, Gov. Bernard had 
suppressed the Massachusetts legislature, on the first of 
July, upon their refusal the day previous, by a vote of 
ninety-two to seventeen, to rescind the resolutions upon 
wliich the seditious circular " was based. The expected 
j2 arrival of troops caused a town meeting to be held in 
Boston, to request the governor to convene .the General 

^ This discourse was printed, and a copy is preserved by the R. T. His- 
torical Society. The words pronounced by Downer in the act of dedication 
are given by Judge Staples. — Annals of Providence, 222 ; Providence ga- 
zette, July 30, 1768. 



Court. Upon liirf refusal to do so, a convention of dele- CIIAP. 
gates from the whole province was called, to meet at 
Boston in ten days. One hundred and four towns and 1768. 
districts, nearly every settlement in Massachusetts, were ^^2^* 
represented in this first popular convention. Bernard 
again refused to sunmion a general court, and denounced 
the convention as treasonable. The attempt to rpiarter 
the troops upon the town, under the new billeting act, 
while the government barracks were yet unfilled, was 
clearly illegal. The law was on the side of the people, in 
resisting the demands of Gage and Bernard. The conven- 
tion sat six days and adopted an address to the King, and 
a letter to their agent, vindicating the province from the 
charge of rebellion, but protesting against Parliamentary 
taxation and standing armies. Scarcely had they ad- 27. 
journed, when eight ships of war and several transports, 
with about a thousand troops, arrived at Boston. The 28. 
ships being arranged so as to command the town, the Oct. 
troops were landed. Part of them encamped on the 1- 
Common, and others, after some delay, were allowed a 
temporary shelter in Fanueil Hall and the Town House ; 
but the people positively refused to provide for their sup- 
port, beyond the express letter of the act of Parliament, 
which recpiired the action of the legislature, a body that 
no longer existed in Massachusetts. Gen. Gage came in 
person from Kew York to settle the difficulty, but with- 
out success. He was compelled to hire houses in which 
to quarter his men, and to fuinish them from the military 
fund. At the same time further changes occurred in the 
cabinet. The Earl of Slielburne, who had succeeded Gen. 
Conw^ay as one of the colonial secretaries, was removed to 
give place to Bochford, a pliant tool of the Duke of Graf- 
ton, whose ascendency was now complete. Chatham 
resigned the seals. The glory of England was soon to be 
shorn of its lustre. 

In Ehode Island the Assembly established the salary 26. 
of the deputy-governor at fifteen pounds, being one-half 



CHAP, that of the governor. Thej also incorporated tlie Whipple 
Hall Society of Providence. This was an educational 

1768. movement made by the proprietors of " Whipple Hall,'' 
a building erected in the north part of Providence for a 
private school, which afterwards became the first district 

[N'ov. school, and continued for sixty years. 

8. At the opening of the new Parliament, the factious 

spirit of the colonies formed the burden of the royal ad- 

10. dress. Additional forces, sent to crush this spirit, reached 
Boston, and soon about four thousand troops, with a for- 
midable fleet, were present to overawe the town. But 
no rebellion existed, no overt act of treason had been 
committed, non-importation agreements were not unlaw- 
ful, and the denial of a right to tax was not a forcible 
resistance to authority. There was nothing for the mili- 
tary arm to effect, unless it was to jDrovoke rebellion. 
Gage, having vainly tried to induce the people to provide 

24. for the troops, quartered them at the expense of the 
crown, and returned to New York. That the determina- 
tion of King and Parliament to yield none of their preten- 
sions, but to use their power upon the people of Boston 
in order to test the question of suj^remacy, was irrevoca- 
ble, became manifest in the addresses of both Houses, in 

15. reply to the King's speech. It was further displayed in 
Hillsborough's letter to Rhode Island, enclosing copies 
of these addresses, and disapproving the petitions and 
letters sent by the Assembly in September. Finally the 

Dec. Parliament ordered that the offenders in Massachusetts 
should be sent to England to be tried, under a statute of 

1769. Henry YIIL, for treason committed abroad. In vain 
J^^n- did Edmund Burke, Col. Barre, and the old governor 

Pownall, Avho had grown liberal with age, oppose in the 
Commons this rash decision. Lord North, although his 
own judgment and feelings were on the side of America, 
was the too faithful mouthpiece, as well as minister, of 
26. the King. At his request the resolutions were introduced 
in the Commons, and carried by a large majority. But 


the scheme Avas impracticable as well as unjust, and could CIIAP. 
never be carried out. ^ 

In reply to the letters respecting the war money due 1769. 
to Eliode Island, Hillsborough wrote that they had been -'^^J^* 
laid before the Lords of the Treasury, together with a 
communication from Dr. Moffat stating that, although he 
had presented a sworn estimate of his losses to the Assem- 
bly, indemnity Avas still denied him. 

At tlie winter session the General Assembly occupied 27. 
themselves entirely with domestic aflairs. Laws were 
passed making the real estate of a deceased person liable 
for his debts, exempting school and church hinds from 
taxation, incorporating Trinity Cliurch in Newport, the 
earliest instance of the incorporation of a church in this 
colony, and allowing the furnace company in Scituate to 
keep up their dam in the spring, notwithstanding the re- 
cpiirement of the old law for protecting fisheries.' The 
general estimate of ratable estates having been completed, 
was adopted by statute as the basis for future taxation. 
The entire valuation of the colony amounted to £2,111,- 
295 10^. YfZ., or, $7,037,652, at the current value of lawful 
money, six shillings to a dollar.^ A tax of six thousand 
pounds, lawful money, and of all tlie outstanding old 
tenor bills, amounting to £93,687 15^. 2*^7., was assessed. 
Six shillings, lawful money, was now worth eight pounds, 
old tenor. At the general election, Joseph Wanton, tlie April, 
father of the late deputy-governor. Col. Wanton, was 
chosen governor, and Darius Sessions, deputy-governor, 
and continued to hold their offices by annual election, the 
former for seven years, and the latter for six years, until 
near the period of independence. The Assembly appoint- Mav3. 
ed a committee of incpiiry, to report at the next session, 

^ The same privilege was granted, Februar}', 1770, to tlie old Furnace 
company on the south branch of the Pawtuxet River. 

^ In this report the towns are arranged by counties. The valuation of 
Newport County is £705,274 14.s. 4d. ; of Providence, £530,908 10s. 4(1. ; 
of Kings, £540,748 14s. ; of Bristol, £99,914 7s. Id. ; and of Kent, £284,449 
4s. lOd. 



CHAP, upon what proceedings had been had in reference to tlie 
^^^^ sufferers by the stamp act riot, and also to answer Lord 
1769. Hillsborough's letter concerning the statement of Dr. 

The hostility of the people to the reyenue officers, was 
increased by the injustice of goyernment, respecting this 
affair, and manifested itself in unlawful acts. A gross 
May outrage was committed at Proyidence upon the person of 
Jesse Sayille, a tide waiter of the custom-house. AVhile 
in the discharge of his duty, he was yiolently assaulted 
June and then tarred and feathered. A reward of fifty pounds 

^' sterling for the perpetrators of this act was yainly offered 
by the commissioners of customs. 

3. Tlie interesting phenomenon of the transit of Yenus, 

was obseryed with great accuracy in Proyidence. Joseph 
Browm, distinguished no less for his scientific acquirements 
than for his commercial enterprise, procured a complete 
set of the necessary instruments, a reflecting telescope, 
micrometer, and sextant, to be made in London. An 
obseryatory was erected on the hill, where the street since 
called, in commemoration of the eyent, Transit street, is 
laid out, and eyery pains was taken to secure a perfect 
obseryation that should determine the latitude of the 
place. Mr. Brown was assisted by Goy. ILjpkins, Dr. 
Benjamin West, and other gentlemen interested in scien- 
tific subjects.' The result of the calculations, established 
the latitude of Proyidence to be 41° 50^41'' nortli. The 
longitude, determined by tlie immersions of Jupiter's 
satellites, compared with similar obseryation s at Cam- 
bridge, was found to be 71° 16' west from Greenwich.^ 

^ These were Moses Brown, Dr. Jabez Bowen, Joseph Nash, and Capt. 
John Burrough. Dr. West wrote a pamplilet upon this matter, entitled 
"An Account of the Observation of Venus upon the Sun," 22 pp., Provi- 
dence, 17^)9. It was dedicated to Gov. Hopkins, and is now very scarce. 

^ These results, when we consider the defective character of tlie instru- 
ments employed, as they would be considered at this day, approximate very 
closely to those obtained by the U. S. Coast Survey, by which the position 



In Newport the same observations were condncted by CIIAP 
Rev. Dr. Stiles, the instruments being furnished by the 
liberality of Abraham Redwood. 1T09. 

In Virginia, the House of Burgesses unanimously "^jj!"^ 
passed a series of resolutions ; that in them was vested 
the sole right of taxation for the colony ; that the right of 
petition, and of obtaining the concurrence of other colo- 
nies therein, was indisputable ; that the right of trial by 
jury within the colony was sacred, and the conveying 
of persons to England to be tried was a violation of jus- 
tice ; and that an address, setting forth these sentiments, 
should be transmitted to the King. The speaker w^as or- 
dered to send copies to every colonial assembly, request- 
ing their concurrence. Lord Boutetort, the governor, 
upon hearing of these resolves, immediately dissolved the 
legislature. The Rhode Island Assembly cordially ap- June 
proved the action of Virginia, and replied to the letter 
of Peyton Randolph, speaker of the House. In fact, these 
resolutions w^ent hardly as far, and certainly no further, 
than those already adopted four years before in Rhode 
Island, at the suggestion of the Providence town meeting, 
the substance of which had previously been introduced 
by Patrick Henry, and a portion of them rejected by the 
Virginia legislature.^ But what had then elicited a warm 
debate, and was passed by a close vote in Virginia, was 
now a unanimous act of that patriotic body. The pro- 
gress of free principles is apparent in the contrast wliich 
four years presents in the conduct of the leading southern 
colony. Tlie Assembly enacted that special courts of 
Common Pleas might be held for the prosecution of cus- 
tom-house officers charged with violations of the fee list 
established by the colony, or with neglect of duty ; the 
decisions of such courts to be final. 

Meanwdiile great excitement existed in England, soon 

of the cupola of University Hall, Brown University, was ascertained to be 
lat. 41° 50' 17" X., long. 71° 23' 40 ". 

^ See ante^ chap, xviii., p. 261, and App. K. 





CHAP, to be eqnallj aroused in America, at tlie arbitrary con- 
duct of Parliament in repeatedly declaring vacant the 
1T69. seat of John Wilkes, member for Middlesex. This pop- 
'^P'^^' ular demagogue, whose vices and whose subsequent 
treachery proved him to be unworthy of the position to 
which talent and circumstances conspired to raise him, 
came, by the imprudence of his enemies, to embody 
the principle of free representation. For years the hos- 
tility of the King had been displayed towards Wilkes. 
A scandalous poem and a seditious pamphlet had pre- 
sented the first opportunity, six years before, for a civil 
prosecution as a means of removing his obnoxious pres- 
ence from the House of Commons.' But he had been four 
times returned by an enthusiastic constituency, who re- 
garded him as a martyr to tyranny. The last time, Col. 
Luttrell, his opponent, was declared elecfed, although 
having but one-quarter of the votes, Wilkes being held as 
incompetent for a seat. This was a great stretch of pre- 
rogative and a dangerous infringement upon the British 
constitution. London was filled with tumult. " Wilkes 
and Liberty " became the rallying cry, and for once the 
Americans found sympathy among the people of England 
wlien their own cliei'ished rights were assailed by an ob- 
stinate King, and an obsequious Parliament. The old 
party names of Whig and Tory, were now revived in 
England to designate the foes of prerogative, and the 

^ The poem was an Essay on Woman, a paraphrase of Pope's Essay on 
Man, and represented by Rev. Mr. Kidgell, who wrote an account of it, as 
the most blasphemous and obscene work ever printed. The name of the 
Bishop of Gloucester was appended to the notes, for which the author was 
arrested, upon complaint of the House of Lords, for breach of privilege. 
A very few copies of it were privately printed at Wilkes' own house, but three 
of which appear to have got into circulation, as was proved upon the trial; 
so that it could not be said to have been published, but Wilkes' opponents 
made great use of it against him. The pamphlet was No. 45 of the North 
Briton, a series of political articles written by Wilkes, of which this number 
was pronounced to be " a seditious libel " upon the authority of Parliament. 
It was ordered to be burnt by the common hangman, and its author im- 
prisoned. These events occurred in November, 1763. 



friends of tlie King," and were applied in America to chap. 
tlie opponents of Parliamentary usurpation, and to the 
partisans of the government. 17oo. 

The disturbances in London, cond)ined with the deter- 
mined resistance of the colonies, brought the ministry to 
a pause in their mad career. A meeting of several colo- 
nial agents with Lord Hillsborough, communicated to Jnly 
Khode Island by Sherwood, obtained from him the assnr- 
ance that all idea of raising a revenue in America had 
heen abandoned, and that the late revenue act, except the 
tax on tea, would shortly be repealed. The motion to 
repeal Townshend's act had already been made by Pow- 
uall, and referred to the next session of Parliament. 
Before Hillsborough's circular, announcing this intention, 
reached America, more serious demonstrations occurred 
in Rhode Island. The British armed sloop Libei'ty, Capt. 
William Beid, cruising in Long Island Sound and arra- 
ganset Bay, in search of contraband traders, had needless- 
ly annoyed all the coasting craft that came in her way. 
Two Connecticut vessels, a brig and a sloop, were brought IT. 
into Newport on suspicion of smuggling. An alterca- 
tion ensued between the captain of the brig and some of 
the Liberty's crew, in which the former was maltreated, 
and his boat fired upon from the vessel. The same even- 
ing the people obliged Beid, while on the wharf, to order 
all his men, except the first officer, to come on shore to 
answer for their conduct. A party then boarded the 
Liberty, sent the officer on shore, cut the cable, and 
grounded the sloop at the Point. There they cut away 
the mast and scuttled the vessel, and then carried her 
boats to the upper end of the town, and burnt them. 
This was the first overt act of violence offered to the 
British authorities in America. Meanwhile the two 
l^rizes got under way and escaped. Gov. AVanton, at the 
request of the collector and Comptroller, issued a procla- 
mation for the arrest of the offenders, and the Bevenue 
Board at Boston offered a reward of one hundred pounds 



CHAP, sterling to any one who would inform against tliem, but 
without effect. 

1769. New York had been the first to adopt non-importation 
'^^^^ agreements, and was zealous to maintain them, writing to 
the other colonies to renew them, in consequence of which 

25. a meeting was called at the liberty tree in Providence, 
but the proceedings are not preserved. The contemplated 
repeal of Townshend's act did not produce the intended 
eftect. It was not the tax, but the principle of the bill, 
that gave offence, and that principle was distinctly recog- 
nized in the proposed repeal. " There must always be 
one tax to keep up the right," said the King to Lord 
^N"orth,' and the threepence duty upon tea was therefore 

27. excepted from the general repeal. At Boston the mer- 
chants voted that a partial repeal was insufficient, and 
renewed their agreement not to import British goods, ex- 
cept a few specified articles. At this juncture. Gov. Ber- 
nard, who had recently been made a baronet, was recall- 

^1- ed, and Lieutenant-governor Hutchinson was again left 
at the head of the provincial government. In IS^ewport 
the merchants, exasperated at the heavy charges made by 
the custom-house officers, bound themselves to pay no 
more than the regular fees prescribed by a law of, the 
colony, to prevent strangers from being imposed upon in 
like manner, and to aid each other in prosecuting the 
officers for any such violations of the legal fee list. 
-A-ug. The payment of the war money of 1756, was still with- 
held. Hillsborough wrote in reply to the June letter, 
that nothing could be done about it till the opinion of the 
Lords of the Treasury upon the papers submitted to them 
was known. 

Sept. Four years had elapsed since the College at Warren 
w^as organized, and the graduating exercises of com- 
mencement day now opened a new era, and established 
the earliest State holiday in the history of Rhode Island. 

' Bancroft's U. S., vol. vi., p. 277. 



It was a great occasion for tlie people of the colony, and CIIAP. 
as each recurring anniversary of this time-honored institu- 
tion of learning calls together from distant places the 1769. 
widely-scattered alumni of Brown University, we do but 
renew, on a more extended scale, the congratulations that 
crowned this earliest festival of Rhode Island College. 
The first graduating class consisted of seven members, 
some of wdiom were destined to fill conspicuous places in 
the approaching struggle for independence.' It was no- 
liced as a significant fact that all who participated in the 
events of the day, from the President to the candidates, 
were clothed in American manufactures. 

Tlie dispute respecting the northern boundary, settled 
fifty years before, and subsequently revived on the com- 
plaint of Massachusetts,'^ was again brought up, after 
eighteen years silence, upon petition of Moses Brown, 
and a committee appointed to examine the subject.^ 
Augustus Johnston renewed his claim for indemnity for 
losses by the stamp act yiot^ and a connnittee was direct- 
ed to inquire into the facts. 

Upon a suggestion from ]Vew York, the Providence Oct. 
merchants extended the non-importation agreements in- 
definitely, until every portion of the levenue act should 

^ Tlie members of this class were Charles Thompsoii, Valedictorian, and 
afterwards a chaplain in the revolutionary army ; Richa. d Stites, salutato- 
riau ; Joseph Belton, Joseph Eaton, William Williams, Widiam Rogers, 
afterwards a chaplain in the revolutionary army, and James Mitchell Var- 
num, afterwards a Brigadier-General in the Revolution, an eloqaeiifc mem- 
ber of Congress from Rhode Island, and finally Judge of the Korth-wostern 

^ Ante, chap, xvii., p. 180. 

^ They reported in October, referring to the attempt to run the linem I7o0, 
and to the joint interest of Connecticut in having it properly established, 
and recommended that that colony be invited to consult with the Rhode 
Island committee upon the measures to be taken for a proper adjustment 
of the line. The extent of land claimed, as appears by Mr. Brown's memo- 
rial, February, 1770, was 4 miles 56 rods in width along the whole northerxr 
line of 22 miles in length. On 23d March, 1770, Mr. Brown wrote to Gov^ 
Trumbull, giving a history of the matter to that time, and asking the co- 
operation of Connecticut. Trumbull Papers, vol. iii., p. 40. 



CHAP, be repealed. Boston adopted tlie same course. There 
was a division of sentiment in the eonntry npon this ques- 

1769. tion, some being disposed to accept the ]3artial repeal as 
a conciliation from the ministry, and consequently to im- 
port to a certain extent, while others insisted npon no 
relaxation of the measures already adopted. In many 
places indi^iduals delayed to sign the new agreement, and 

10-24. repeated meetings were called. In Providence four were 
held within two weeks, before the arrangement was per- 
fected by the adhesion of all the merchants in the import 

A murrain had again broken out among cattle on the 
island, and at the same time many cases of hydrophobia 
appeared among dogs. To prevent the spread of these 
25. disorders, it was forbidden to export cattle from the island 
to any other town, and the town councils were empower- 
ed to take such action as they deemed best on the sub- 
ject. A dog law was also passed, authorizing every free- 
man to kill dogs found running at large anywhere in the 
colony. These acts were to be in force for four months. 
The Virginia resolutions of May, which had been received 
and approved in June, were now formally adopted by a 
vote of the House, and an address to the King, as therein 
recommended, was pre])ared. 
Nov. The town of lN"ewport was now at the height of its 
prosperity. The population numbered more tlian eleven 
thousand. Industrial enterprises were numerous and 
varied, embracing extensive manufactories of oil, candles, 
sugar, ruui, and hemp, i^early two hundred vessels were 
employed in foreign commerce, among which there was 
a regular line of London packets, and between three and 
four hundred coasting craft conducted the domestic trade.^ 
As yet no permanent College buildings had been erected 
at Warren, and the ultimate location of the institution 

^ The town contained 17 manufactories of sperm oil and candles, 5 rope 
walks, 3 sugar refineries, 1 brewery, and 22 rum distilleries. Bull's Memoirs 
of Rhode Island. 



depended upon the relative subscriptions tluit niiglit be CIIAP. 
made for it in different towns. The cor])oration, at a meet- 
ing held in Xewport, aUowed six weeks for tlie iidiab- 17H9. 
itants to raise their subscription and present their claim 
to have it established in that county. The town enter- 
ed warmly into the contest, with every prospect of suc- 
cess, and the Mercury contained stirring appeals to the 20 
2)eople upon the advantages to result from securing it 

A ship from London having arrived at Providence Dec. 
with some goods that were in violation of the non-impor- 
tation agreement, these articles were surrendered by the 9. 
importers to a committee, to be stored until the repeal of 
Tow^nshend's act. The perplexities of the ministry led 1770. 
the Duke of Grafton to resign his place, and Lord JN'orlh 
became prime minister. The colonies had become the 
great question in England, their proceedings were w^atched 
with an interest never before felt, and orders were sent by Feb. 
Hillsborough to require not only copies of the law^s, but l*^- 
of the journals of each legislative meeting, to be sent to 

A petition was presented to the Assembly, again to 26. 
divide the tow^n of Providence, and to erect the west side 
into a separate town to be called Westminster ; but it was 
not granted.^ The statute regulating the distribution of 
real property among the heirs of persons dying intestate, 
w^as passed at this session. Such estate, held in fee sim- 
ple, was to be divided, a double portion to the eldest son, 
the remainder in equal shares among the other children; 
or if no son, then equally to all the children ; and if no 
children, then equally among the next of kin, or their rep- 
resentatives, the widow's dower beino: in all cases reserved. 

^ Newport Mercury, Nov. 20, and Providence Gazette, Xov. 25, 1769. 
A census return dated January 1, 1768, states the number of houses 
on the west side of the river in Providence at 102, and the people at 911, 
of whom 189 were children from 5 to 14 years of age, fit for school. 
Foster Papers, Miscel., vol. xi. 



CHAP. The arrogance of the royal troops, and the restiveness 
of the people nnder an open and arbitrary attempt at 

1770. coercion, led to an attack upon the soldiers, and the firing 
npon the populace, known as the " Boston massacre," by 
whicli five of tlie rioters lost their lives. It was a repeti- 
tion, on a larger scale, of the Sparker affair at New^port, 
and with nearly tlie same result. At the trial of the 
prisoners in October, they were defended by John Adams 
and Josiali Quincy, two of the poj^ular leaders, and were 
all acquitted except two, who were convicted of man- 
slaugliter and slightly punished. On the same day w^ith 
this bloodshed, Lord Korth moved the long-promised 
]*epeal of Tow^nshend's act, except the duty on tea. A few 

-A-pril days later Pownall moved to include tea also, on grounds 
of expediency. Tliis was defeated, because it w^oukl be a 
surrender of the riglit to tax the colonies, but the repeal 

18. On the day of tlie annual town meetings for casting 
proxies for general officers, Gov. Ward again appeared 
as a candidate, and carried several towns, but Wanton 
received a handsome majority, and the same officers as 
May 2. last year were dechired elected. The struggle for the 
location of the College was decided in a meeting of the 
Feb. corporation, by twenty-one to fourteen, in favor of Provi- 
^' deuce, which had proved the ablest competitor in the sub- 
scription. Newport had raised four thousand pounds, 
and Providence two hundred and eighty more. Warren 
and Greenwich had both sought to obtain it, but were 
surpassed by their more w^ealthy and populous rivals. 
-^^Y The site was chosen, and ground broken for the founda- 
27. tion as soon as the season would permit, and in seven 
wrecks the corner-stone was laid by Jolm Brown, in pres- 
14. ence of many friends of tlie institution. Dr. Manning, 
resigning the charge of the church at Warren, which ho 
held in connection with the Presidency, removed at once 
with the undergraduates, to Providence. Tlie building 
w^as occupied by the students in December. 



Tlie effect of the repeal of Townsliend's act was soon chap. 

felt ill a relaxation of the non-importation agreement ^ 

throughout the colonies. The Boston and Rhode Island 1770. 
merchants decided to renew the imports of British and 
India goods, but a few days later a town meeting in Prov- 31. 
idence resolved that this action was too hasty, and that 
for the present the old agreements be adhered to, until the 
tax on tea should be repealed. 

A committee to wait on the merchants with this deci- June 
sion, reported that they had agreed to countermand all 
orders except for certain specified articles. The list was 
not satisfactory, and the town voted that only such goods 
as were included in the old agreement, and were imported 
by the other colonies, should be allowed. 

The General Assembly granted a petition to divide li- 
the town of Warren, and incorporated that portion of it 
west of Warren River by its former name of Barrington. 
Thus Barrington became for the second time a distinct 
township, and Warren was divested of the larger portion 
of its territory.' Newport had imported goods in viola- 
tion of the agreement, and great indignation against the 
whole colony was thereby aroused. Meetings were held 
in the southern and w^estern colonies to break off all trade 
with Rhode Island. But opinion was everywhere much 
divided upon the question of continuing the restrictions 
upon commerce, and soon nearly all the colonies came to 
the decision to import any article, except tea. A few July, 
still held out, but within three months the agreements 
were everywhere virtually rescinded, and tea alone re- 
mained subject to prohibition. Providence had been in- 
cluded in the denunciations against Xewport, and took ^^^g 
measures at a town meeting to show that they Avere un- 28, 
deserved, for the merchants there had quietly submitted 
to the action of the people. The proofs presented were ^5^^* 

' Barrington was first incorporated by Massachusetts in ITIS, and re- 
mained a separate town till the annexation to Rhode Island in 1747, Avhcn 
it was niferged in Warren. Ante, chap, xvi., p. 162. 



CHAP, satisfactory to the Boston merchants, who adopted a vote 
exculpating Providence from the accusations tliat had 
1770. been made against Rhode Ishmd. 

^^P^" The Assembly prohibited the currency of old tenor 
bills after the first of January, and required that they 
should be exchanged for treasury notes, having one year 
to run, at the rate of six shillings, lawful money, for eight 
pounds. A tax of twelve thousand pounds was assessed, 
two thousand for current expenses, and the remainder to 
redeem treasury notes formerly given for redemption of 
bills of credit. The laws for restraining Indian and 
colored servants, and regulating the manumission of 
slaves, in Is^ewport, were revised. Those found abroad 
after nine o'clock at night were to be confined in a cage, 
instead of the jail, till morning, and then to be whipped 
Avitli ten strijDes unless redeemed for a small sum by their 
masters. In cases of manumission, the owner was to give 
proper security that the subject should not become a pub- 
lic charge, and the free papers were to be recorded. 
Suitable penalties Avere imposed for violations of any 
part of this law, and a failure to conform thereto invali- 
dated an act of manumission. The statute applied only 
to Newport, where, however, the greater portion of the 
slaves in the colony were held. A bill was also ordered 
to be prej)ared, to prevent the further importation of 
slaves into Rhode Island, but no action was had upon it 
at present. 

8. Orders were received from England to deliver up Cas- 

tle William to Gen. Gage, to be further fortified and gar- 
risoned by regular troops. This was a direct violation of 
the Massachusetts charter, by which the command of the 
forts, as well as the militia, was vested in the governor, 
and this fort had been built and maintained at the expense 
of the colony. But Hutchinson obeyed the order, and 
himself took refuge in the fort for several days, through 
fear of the indignation which this betrayal excited. 
Oct. 3. The jail in Kings county was broken open in the night. 



by persons in disguise, and the prisoners, tlie greater part CIIAP. 
of them counterfeiters, of wliom one, named Casev, was 
under sentence of death, were released, and made tlieir 1770. 
escape upon liorses provided for them by the li])erators. 
The Assembly offered a reward of fifty pounds for the 29. 
perpetrators of this outrage, and the same for the recovery 
of Casey. Oliver Arnold, attorney-general of the colony, 9- 
died at this time. He had held the office for five years, 
having succeeded Johnston, who resigned after the stamp 
act riot. His great reputation as a lawyer and scholar 
caused his death, at the early age of thirty-four years, to 
be deeply lamented. A violent storm again blew down a 
part of the spire of Trinity church at Xewport, and caused 
an immense loss of life and property along the coast. 
Newport suffered very severely in this gale. A few 
weeks later, tw^o large fires also occurred there, the first -j^^^ 
destroying several dwellings, and injuring the custom- 28. 
house, and the second sweeping a large number of stores 
with much valuable property from one of the wharves. i8.* 

A year of unusual quietness commenced. ^vTothing 
of much importance happened. There was a lull in the 
political storm, both in America and England, and hopes 
of a peaceable adjustment of pending disputes began to 
revive. Even Pranklin wrote that if no new disturbances 
occurred to aggravate the government, every thing might 
be settled in a satisfactory manner. Hutchinson received ^a^*- 
his commission as governor of Massachusetts, and between 
him and the General Court, the usual disagreements con- 
tinued, but without serious result, - The revenue system, 
that constant source of vexation, destined ultimately to 
precipitate the war of revolution, was everywhere disre- 
garded. Smuggling was almost openly carried on, and 
occasional altercations occurred in consequence. Hills- 
borough, in a letter to Rhode Island, repeats the com- Julj 
plaints of the commissioners of customs, with regard to 
these disputes, and refers to one in which the collector at 
Newport had lately been maltreated, but no other record April. 
VOL. II. — 56 



CHAP, of such an affair, as happening during this year, appears. 
.^^^ Botta speaks of a tumult at Providence, in which the 
I77L King's ship Wasp was burnt, but this must be an error, 
^^^^^ as no trace of such an event can be found, and no vessel 

of that name was at Rhode Island.' 
17. There was no opposition to the existhig officers at the 

^^j"^- spring election. The Assembly appointed Henry Mar- 
chant, the new" attorney-general, who was about to visit 
England, to be joint agent with Sherwood in behalf of 
the colony, especially for the recovery of the old war 
debt. A petition to set off the village of Pawtuxet from 
Warwick and Cranston, and erect it into a distinct town, 
Avas referred with an order of notice. Tliis project was 
several times attempted, but never with success. Gen. 
Gage had written to Gov. Wanton, requesting that quar- 
ters should be provided for the sixty-fourth regiment. 
The consideration of the letter was postponed, and the 
governor was desired, in case the troops should arrive, 
and supplies be asked for before the next session, to con- 
vene the Assembly. A recruiting party of the tw^enty- 
ninth regiment was already at Fort George, and the ac- 
counts for their maintenance presented by the captain of 

June the fort and others, were allowed, as under the old billet- 
10 . . . 

ing act. A charter of incorporation was granted to the 

Second Congregational church at Newqj>ort, under the 
charge of Dr. Stiles. This was the third church incorpo- 
rated by the Assembly.^ Appeals to England from the 
decision of the Superior Court were restricted to suits in- 
volving more than three hundred pounds currency. 

^ Botta's History of the War of Independence, edit. 1826, vol. i., p. 
lOY. This is no doubt a mistake both in name and date, for the destruction 
of the Gaspee, which took place the next year, and of which Botta makes no 
mention. The ships of war stationed at, or that put into Narraganset Bay 
that year, were the frigate Arethusa, 36 guns; ships Lizard, 28, Rose, 20, 
Mercury, 24, Swan, 20, Hind, 20, Kingfisher, 14, Viper, 12; schooners, 
Gaspee, 8, and Vesper, 14. Bull's Memoirs. 

^ The first was Trinity at Newport, February, 1*769 ; the second, the 
Benevolent Congregational at Providence, October, 1770. 



Marchant was directed to carry with him a statement CIIAP. 

• • • \ 1 X 

of the northern boundary chiim, in order to obtain a 

decree, if possible, to have the line established in accord- 1771. 
ance with the charters of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 
A new and more complete insolvent law was enacted, "^g^* 
wliere])y debtors were enabled to obtain a discharge, with 
the assent of a majority, in number and amount, of the 
creditors, by surrendering all their property, real and 
personal, to the creditors, upon oath, unless a reasonable 
suspicion of fraud should exist. The majority of assenting 
creditors, or the Judges of the Court, were to appoint 
three assignees to carry out the terms of the surrender, 
whose powers and duties were fully prescribed in the act. 
Certain necessary articles of furniture were allowed to 
be retained by the insolvent, and should the dividend 
upon his estate amount to seventy-five per cent, of his 
debts, he was permitted to reserve five per cent., or if it 
was only fifty per cent., then two and a half per cent, for 
his own support. Perjury on the part of the petitioner 
for the benefit of the act was punished with imprison- 
ment, the pillory, and the loss of one ear.^ A tax of 
twelve thousand pounds, equal in amount, and for the 
same purposes, with that of the last year, was assessed. 
A lottery for building the market-house in Providence 
was granted.^ This mode of raising money for all pur- 
poses, civil or religious, had become so common, that 
scarcely a session occurred without one or more of these 
grants being made. 

Gov. Hutchinson, following an old form in the pro- 
vincial charter, which gave to the governor of Massachu- 
setts the command of the militia and forts in Phode Island, 
and being instructed in his commission to conform there- 
to, enclosed a copy of that clause of the charter to Gov. Sept. 
Wanton. The firmness of Rhode Island from the outset, 2. 

^ This act was repealed the next year, in May, 1772. 
^ The corner-stone of the Marljet-house was laid on Tuesday, June 8th 
1773, by Nicholas Brown. Providence Gazette, June 12, 1773. 


CHAP, liad rendered tins provision nugatory. Tlie experience of 
Sir William Pliipps, eighty years before, of Belleniont, of 

1771. Dudley, and of every royal governor since their times, 
might have served as a hint to Hutchinson to spare him- 
self the futile labor of the notice. A singular proposal, 

Oct. from Bristol, was made through the press, by one who 
styled himself " A friend to Property," and was disaffect- 
ed to the existing government of the colony, to overthrow 
its constitution. Arguing that in small States an elective 
legislature must always be a source of disorder and cor- 
ruption, he proposed that a committee be appointed, who 
should either divide the colony between Massachusetts 
and Connecticut, or apply to the King for a royal gov- 
ernor to be placed over it. A spirited reply was made a 

24. few days later, from the same town, denouncing the pro- 
posed change, and demolishing the pleas upon which it 

Roads, bridges, and public buildings, occupied the 
Assembly at its autumn session. The new court-houses in 
Providence and Greenwich were ordered to be finished, 
and a new prison to be built in N^ewport. Provision 
was made for repairing bridges, and erecting new ones in 
different parts of the colony. The highway law was re- 
vised so as to require the surveyors, upon penalty of a 
fine, to perform their duty, and to compel the inhabitants 
to work four days annually upon the roads. The year 
passed away, as it had begun, very quietly ; but the lull 
in the tempest was nearly over, and the fiercer blast was 
soon to come. 

1772. A memorable instance of the triumph of law over 
popular prejudice, occurred early in the year. One 
David Hill, of Wrentham, was detected by the committee 
of inspection at IS'ew York, in selling goods included in 
the non-importation agreements. They induced him to 
deposit the property with a merchant until the revenue 
acts should be repealed. A mob seized the goods and 
destroyed them. Hill brought an action in Rhode Island, 



where he found property belonging to some of the com- CIIAP. 
mittee, alleging that he had given np his goods upon 
compulsion. The case was tried before the Superior Court, 1772. 
upon appeal from the Common Pleas, where a verdict had 
already been rendered for Hill, and the ablest counsel in 
the colony were employed on both sides. The public 
feeling was strongly against the plaintiff, for his claim 
was adverse to the cause of liberty. The judges were 
subject to annual election. The jurors were returned 
from different towns in Providence county, and were 
never charged by the court. Yet the Superior Court con- 
firmed the judgment of the Inferior, and gave the plain- 21. 
tiff two hundred and eighty -two pounds damages and costs. 
Under all the circumstances this verdict, in favor of a 
stranger, against their own prejudices, and in a case 
where patriotism itself would seem to dictate an opposite 
course, shows a reverence for law and a regard for justice, 
on the part of both bench and jury, that entitle them to 
the highest honor ; while the subsequent re-election of the 
court by the Assembly, a few weeks later, enhances our 
respect for that popular tribunal.' This affair is the more 
honorable to the court and the colony from the fact that 
while it was in progress, the people were harassed by the 
conduct of his Majesty's schooner Gaspee, of eight guns, 
which, in company with the Beaver, had been stationed 
in ^larraganset Bay, to enforce the revenue acts. Lieu- 
tenant Duddingston, the commander, had practised every 
annoyance upon vessels in the bay, detaining them often 
without a colorable pretext, stopping even market boats, 
and in some cases plundering the people on shore. He 
had violated the charter of the colony in acting without 

' The court was composed of Ex-Governor Stephen Hopkins, Chief-Jus- 
tice ; James Helme, 2d ; Benoni Hall, 3d ; Metcalf Bowler, -ith ; Stephen 
Potter, 5th. They were elected in June, 1770, again in May, 1771, and re- 
elected after this most unpopular but righteous decision in May, 1772. A 
protracted controversy upon points involved in the case was conducted in 
the papers after the trial. Annals of Providence, 228 ; Providence Gazette 
of March 2Sth, April 4th and 18th, May 2d and 9th, 1772. 



CHAP, showing his coiniiiissioii, and had exceeded his authority 
by making illegal seizures, and sending captured prop- 

1772. erty to Boston for trial, contrary to an act of Parliament 
that required such trials to be held in the colony where 
Feb. the seizure was made. Ilis arbitrary conduct had 
already excited public attention, and was cautiously re- 
29. ferred to in the papers of the day. Complaints were 
made by the inhabitants of Providence to deputy -govern- 
or Sessions, who, upon consulting Chief-justice Hopkins, 
received as his opinion " that no commander of any vessel 
has a right to use any authority in the body of the colony, 
without previously applying to the governor, and show- 
ing his warrant for so doing, and also being sworn to a 

Mar. (Jne exercise of his office.'" Sessions then communicated 

the complaints, and the judge's opinion, to Gov. Wanton,^ 
who immediately sent the high sheriff' on board the 

22. schooner, with a letter to the commanding officer, requir- 
ing him to produce his commission and instructions. The 

23, next day Duddingston sent, by a junior officer, an arro- 
gant reply, to which Gov. Wanton answered directly, re- 
peating his demand, and assuring Duddingston of safety 
in coming on shore. Duddingston enclosed the corre- 
spondence to Admiral Montagu at Boston, who took sides 

April with the lieutenant, and addressed an extremely insolent 
^' letter to Gov. Wanton, defending the conduct of Dud- 
dingston, ridiculing that of the governor, and threatening, 
in case the rescue of any prize was attempted, " to hang 
Mav 6 pirates " the parties concerned. Gov. Wanton laid this 
letter before the Assembly, together with his very spirited 
8. reply, in which he informs Montagu, " that I do not re- 
ceive instructions for the administration of my govern- 

^ Original in Foster Papers, vol. iv., printed in " Documentary History 
of the Destruction of the Gaspee," by Hon. William R. Staples. 66 pp. 
double column 8vo, Providence, 1845, where all the correspondence, de- 
positions, and journals of the commission of inquiry are published ; and to 
which the reader is referred as authority for the statements of the text, 
without making specific references to each document consulted by the 
author on this subject. 



ment from tlie King's Admiral stationed in America." chap. 
The Assembly directed copies of the correspondence to be 
sent to England, with a narrative of the proceedings re- 1772. 
ferred to therein. ^^''^ 

The other matters presented at this session were of 
less importance. A sale of one-half the right of a spring 
of water on the west side of the river at Providence, had 
been made by John Feild to certain parties, for the pur- 
pose of conveying Avater in pipes to that part of the town. 
These persons Avere incorporated as the Feild's Fountain 
Society, with ample powers for their object. This is the 
earliest instance of a charter of this kind being granted in 
the colony.' A spirit of opposition to law was manifest- 
ed in 'New Shoreham by a combination of the people to 
resist the service of writs and executions. To remedy this 
evil, the inhabitants were cited to appear, at the August 
session in Newport, to show cause, if any existed, why 
some more effectual law should not be made, applicable 
to that town. 

Gov. Wanton wrote to Lord Hillsborough, complaiii- 20. 
ing of Montagu's insolence, and of the conduct of the 
Gaspee and Beaver. Duddingston also wrote to the Ad- 
miral, giving the details of his first interview^ with Wan- 22. 
ton, and admitting that he had knowingly violated the 
law by sending a captured sloop with rum to Boston, but 
had expected the commissioners of customs there w^ould 
sustain him, because he knew the prize could not be safely 
retained at Newport. He also states that the owner of 
the rum was Mr. Greene of Coventry, a member of the 
House ; if so it was Is athaniel Greene, soon to become a 
great leader of the revolutionary armies.' Meanwhile 

^ The Rawson's Fountain Society in Providence was incorporated at the 
October session the same year. The Cooke's Fountain Society in East 
Greenwicli was incorporated in October, 1773. 

' In this Duddingston was mistaken, as he soon had occasion to know. 
The owners were Jacob Greene & Co., of Warwick. The firm consisted of 
Jacob, William, Elisha, Christopher, and Perry Greene, who soon after- 
wards, at the July term of the Common Pleas, brought suit and I'ecovered 



CHAP, the vexatious interference of the armed vessels continued, 
^^^^ until an occasion offered for the destruction of the Gaspee. 
1772. The sloop Hannah, Capt. Benjamin Lindsey, from J^ew 
June York, arrived at Newport, reported at the custom-liouse, 
and the next day proceeded up the river. The Gaspee, 
^' as usual, gave chase, but ran aground on Namquit, since 
called Gaspee Point, below Pawtuxet, and the Hannah 
escaped, arriving safely at Providence about sunset. The 
situation of the enemy was soon proclaimed by beat of 
drum, calling upon those who desired to go and destroy 
the vessel, to meet that evening at the house of James Sa- 
bin.' Eight long-boats w^ith five oars each, were "pro- 
vided by Mr. John Brown, and soon after ten o'clock 
the party embarked at the wdiarf directly opposite the 
house, and proceeded with muffled oars, but undisguised, 
upon their daring enterprise. Capt. Abraham Whipple, 
afterwards commodore, who three years later fired, in 
Narraganset Bay, the first American broadside ever dis- 
charged at any portion of his Majesty's navy, commanded 
the expedition. It was long past midnight when the 
party approached the vessel, where they were joined by 
another boat from Bristol. Twice the hail of the sentinel 

judgment against Duddingston for the illegal seizure. Nathaniel Greene, 
the future general, was at that time a deputy from Coventry. 

^ This house, then unfinished, was occupied as an inn. It was soon 
afterwards purchased and completed by Welcome Arnold, who resided there 
till his death in 1798. It then became the residence of his eldest son, 
Samuel G. Arnold, father of the writer, and subsequently of his youngest son, 
Richard J. Arnold, the present owner, who has altered and enlarged it ma- 
terially within a few years. It is now the winter residence of the author of ' 
this history. The house is No. 124, on the east side of South Main Street, 
at the north-east corner of Planet Street. This brief sketch of tiie history 
of a homestead may find an excuse in the rich revolutionary associations 
that surround it. The year before his death, Colonel Ephraim Bowen, the 
last survivor of the Gaspee expedition, wrote an account of that alfair, 
which was engrossed by his daughter, and now hangs in the dining-room of 
the old mansion, the identical room in which the plot was laid. A copy of 
Colonel Bowen's narrative will be found in Appendix L at the close of this 



was disregarded, when Diiddiiigston himself, leaping on CHAP, 
tlie gunwale, liailed, but received no answer. A second 
time lie hailed and was answered, in terms energetic and 1772. 
profane, by Whipple, who, at the same time, ordered his 
men to spring to their oars. Shots were then fired from 
the vessel and returned by the boats. AVliile Whipple 
was replying, a musket ball, fired by Joseph Bucklin, 
wounded the lieutenant in the groin, and as he fell the at- 
tacking party boarded the schooner at the bow, and after a 
brief struggle, drove the crew below, and became masters 
of the deck. The men surrendered, were bound, and put 
on shore. Duddingston was severely wounded in the arm 
and body. He was attended by Dr. John Mawney, then 
a student of medicine, who accompanied the expedition 
as surgeon. This was the first British blood shed in the 
war of independence. 

It was near daylight, when, the lieutenant's wounds lo. 
being dressed, he was landed at Pawtuxet, and the cap- 
tors, having set fire to the vessel, returned to Providence. 
In the flames of the burning Gaspee were consumed that 
night the last hope or wish of pardon. The forms of law 
were to be complied with, a few short years of increasing 
irritation and of earnest preparation were to ensue, but 
the end was already foreseen, and for this colony there 
alone remained to prepare, quietly but with vigor, for the 
inevitable war. 

Midshipman Dickenson sent a rej^ort of the capture n. 
to the Admiral, who transmitted a copy of it to Gov. 
Wanton, with the request that he would take measures to 
apprehend the ofifenders. Deputy:governor Sessions also 
advised that a large reward should be offered for their 
detection, and stated that such was the opinion of the 12. 
principal gentlemen in the town. The governor issued 
his proclamation accordingly, oflfering one hundred pounds 
sterling to any person who would furnish evidence sufli- 
cient for conviction. An active correspondence ensued 
between the governor, the admiral, and the lieutenant, 16. 



CHAP, whose wounds, though severe, roved not to be mortal, 
and an account of the capture was sent to Lord Ilills- 

1772. borough by Gov. Wanton. 

But the excitement occasioned by this daring act, did 
not prevent the steady course of justice. It is one of the 
most striking facts connected with the aifair, that at the 
20. July term of the Common Pleas in Kent county, an action 
was brought by Jacob Greene and Company, against 
Duddingston, for the rum and sugars seized by him in the 
spring, on its passage from Greenwich to Newport, and 
sent to Boston for condenmation. A verdict for the plain- 
tiffs was rendered, with two hundred ninety-five pounds 
damages and costs. Duddingston appealed to the Supe- 

Dec. Yior Court, but failing to appear, the case went by default. 
He afterwards petitioned the Assembly for a new trial, 
on the ground of unavoidable detention from the meeting 
of the court. The petition was granted on condition that 
he would deposit the amount of the judgment with the 
clerk of the court to await the result. 

A mulatto slave, named Aaron Briggs, who was en- 
gaged in the expedition, and afterwards escaped from his 
master and went on board the Beaver, came near exposing 
the whole party, most of whom were among the leading 
men in Providence, with some from Bristol. Admiral Mon- 

*^g^^ tagu forwarded his deposition to Gov. Wanton, requesting 
him to arrest the persons therein named, for examination ; 
but Wanton, although eventually a loyalist, instead of 

10, 11 obeying the request, took depositions invalidating the tes- 
16. timony of Aaron, and forwarded them to Montagu, who, 
22. although unconvinced, as he afterwards informed Wan- 
ton, was obliged to rest satisfied, and detained the slave. 
The Assembly approved the conduct and correspondence 

^"g- of the governor in this affair, and also appointed the 
deputy-governor and chief-justice to inquire, in behalf of 
Duddingston, concerning a sum of money belonging to 
him in the hands of a man who refused to surrender it, 
and advised Duddingston, in case these referees could not 



settle it, to adopt liis legal remedy. It should be remem- chap. 
bered that suits against Duddingston for his illegal acts 
were threatened before the destruction of the Gaspee, and 1772. 
still maintained, but the case of Hill had proved that these 
would not prevent his receiving justice in any good cause 
where he might be a plaintiff. 

To present an unbroken narrative of these important 
events, requires that we should pass over to the next 
chapter the occurrences of a year following the destruc- 
tion of the Gaspee, and confine our attention to that sub- 
ject alone. AVhen the news reached England, the King's 
proclamation was issued, olfering a reward of one thou- 26. 
sand pounds each, for the arrest and conviction of the two 
leaders of the affair, and five hundred pounds each for 
any other of the offenders, w^ith a free pardon, in addition, 
to any one concerned, except the two chiefs, who would 
implicate the rest. A commission was issued to Joseph Sept. 
AVanton, governor of Rhode Island, Daniel Horsmanden, 
Frederick Smythe, and Peter Oliver, chief-justices of 
'New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and Robert 
Auclimuty, judge of vice-admiralty at Boston, or any three 
of them, to inquire into and report upon the facts. Instruc- 
tions were given for their guidance, by the third article 
of which they were required to communicate to the gov- 
ernment of Rhode Island any information they might 
obtain as to the persons concerned in the outrage, that 
they might be sent to England for trial. 

Meanwhile Lieutenant Duddine^ston had returned to Oct. 


England, and was there tried by court-martial on board the 
Centaur, man-of-war, at Portsmouth, for the loss of the 
Gaspee. Upon a full inquiry he was honorably acquitted. 

The commission and instructions were sent to Admiral Dec. 
Montagu, and by him transmitted to Gov. Wanton, who 
at once notified the commissioners. The King's procla- 
mation was posted by the sheriffs throughout the colony, ^2. 
au'l the Admiral was informed that the court would i)rob- 24. 
ably assemble in about a week. Upon the arrival of the 31. 



CHAP. Kew York and J^ew Jersey judges at Newport, Wanton 
^^J^ wrote to Montagu that a quorum was in attendance, and 
1773. desired liis presence. Montagu excused liiniself, but sent 
Jan. 2. ^^Yi powers to Capt. Keeler of the Mercury, the senior 
officer on the Newport station, to act in his stead, who 

4. was summoned to attend at the opening of the court. 

5. The next day the commissioners met at the State House 
and continued in session three weeks. Montagu's pres- 

14. ence was deemed essential, and he accordingly came to 
20. Newport, but returned in a few days. Duddingston had 
gone to England, and it was chiefly in regard to his evi- 
dence that the Admiral was summoned. But the incle- 
ment season, the engagements of the Admiral, and the 
absence of Duddingston, so retarded proceedings, that at 
the end of three weeks, spent in correspondence and in 
25. taking a few depositions, the court adjourned for four 

Mar. The Admiralty instructed Montagu that he might in- 
trust to Capt. Keeler his business with the court of inquiry, 
unless his presence with them should be indispensable. 
May He accordingly sent to Keeler two of the Gaspee's com- 
pany who had been sent out from England to identify the 
27. prisoners, should any be taken. Keeler notified Gov. 
AYanton, as president of the commission, of their arrival, 
but as he could not come on shore, on account of a writ 
being out against him, he desired notice of the time of 
meeting that he might send one of his ofiicers with the 
31. witnesses. The full court being assembled, proceedings 
s June were resumed. Further testimony was taken, and the 
^' depositions of Aaron and otliers having been submitted to 
the Justices of the Superior Court, their presence was 
7. requested by the commissioners. It was shown that 
Aaron's evidence was obtained under compulsion by 
Capt. Linzee, of the Beaver, and hence was entitled to no 
12. w^eight. The commissioners declined to express an 
opinion on this point, contrary to that of the justices. 
Nothing was discovered upon which an arrest could be 



made. It was proposed to inquire into tlie affair of the chap. 
schooner St. John, that occurred nine years before, but 
the motion was overruled by a majority of the commis- 1773. 
sioners. After an al)ortive session of three weeks, a final ^^22"^ 
report to the King was prepared, announcing the failure 
to make any material discovery in "the matter, and tlie 
belief " that the whole w^as conducted suddenly and 
secretly." The facts in the case were briefly stated, the 
action of the inhabitants and of the local government 
thereupon was rehearsed and commended, and the con- 
duct of Duddingston in the execution of his powers was 
blamed as imprudent and arbitrary. The opinion of the 
Justices upon the testimony of Aaron was cited and ap- 
proved, and the conduct of Capt. Linzee, in obtaining 
that deposition by force, was censured. The court then 

TJie most honorable feature in the whole transaction, 
is that the large rewards, amounting from six hundred to 
eleven hundred pounds sterling, were offered in vain. 
The perpetrators of the deed were well known. They 
were among the most prominent citizens of the colony, 
and some of the younger and more rash accomplices, had 
openly boasted of the occurrence the next day, while the 
smoke of the burning vessel yet darkened the sky. Tlie 
court of inquiry were composed of loyalists w^ho were 
honest and earnest in their examination, but no direct 
evidence could be obtained, except that of the slave whose 
testimony was successfully impeached. 

Much has been said in chronicle and song, of a later 
achievement in the adjoining province, where a party, 
disguised as Indians, threw ovei"board a cargo of tea ; 
while the captors of the Gaspee, until a very recent date, 
have remained almost " unknown, unhonored, and unsung." 
The Boston tea party have been lauded for performing an 
act of exalted patriotism and unequalled daring. But we 
submit that the seizure of a merchantman requires less 
courage than the capture of a man-of-war, while the pa- 



CHAP, triotic impulse that would face, undisguised, the desperate 
J^^^ danger of the latter enterprise, is no less worthy of histo- 
1773. ric fame. The affair of the Gaspee is still more deserving 
of commemoration as it was the first bold blow, in all 
the colonies, for freedom, and the earliest blood shed in 
the war of independence. It was the beginning of the 
end. The Revolution had commenced. 



pp In the year 1772, the British Government liad stationed at New- 
L. port, Rhode Island, a sloop-of-war, with her tender, the schooner 
called the Gaspee, of eight gnns, commanded by William Dudding- 
ston, a lieutenant in the British navy, for the purpose of preventing 
the clandestine landing of articles subject to the payment of duty. 
The captain of this schooner made it his practice to stop and board 
all vessels entering or leaving the ports of Rhode Island, or leaving 
Newport for Providence. On the 10th day of June, 1772, Cai)t. 
Thomas Lindsey left Newport in his packet for Providence, about 
noon, with the wind at north ; and soon after the Gaspee was under 
sail in pursuit of I^indsey, and continued the chase as far as Namcut 
Point, which runs ofl' from the farm in Warwick, about seven miles 
below Providence, and is now owned by Mr. John B. Francis, our 
late governor. Lindsey was standing easterly with the tide on ebb, 
about two hours, when he hove about at the end of Namcut Point, 
and stood to the westward, and Duddingston, in close chase, changed 
his course and ran on the point near its end and grounded. Lindsey 
continued in his course up the river, and arrived at Providence about 
sunset, when he immediately informed Mr. John Brown, one of our 
first and most respectable merchants, of the situation of the Gaspee. 
He immediately concluded that she would remain immovable until 
after midnight, and that now an opportunity offered of putting an 
end to the trouble and vexation she daily caused. Mr. Brown im- 
mediately resolved on her destruction, and he forthwith directed 
one of his trusty shipmasters to collect eight of the largest long-boats 



ill the harbor, with five oars to each, to have the oars and row-h)cks CIIAP. 
niutHed to prevent noise, and to place them at Fenner's wharf, XIX. 
directly opposite the dwelling of Mr. James Sabin, who kept a house ^'^~f^ 
of board and entertainment for gentlemen, being the same house pur- l_ 
chased a few years after by the late Welcome Arnold, one of our 
enterprising merchants, and is now owned by and is the residence of 
Col. Richard J. Arnold, his son. About the time of the shutting of 
the shops, soon after sunset, a man passed along the Main street, 
beating a drum, and informing the inhabitants of the fact, that the 
Gaspee was aground on Namcut Point, and would not float off until 3 
o'clock the next morning, and inviting those persons who felt a dis- 
position to go and destroy that troublesome vessel, to repair in the 
evening to Mr. James Sabin's house. About 9 o'clock I took my 
father's gun, and my powder-horn and bullets, and went to Mr. 
Sabin's, and found the south-east room full of people, where I loaded 
my gun, and all remained there till about 10 o'clock, some casting 
bullets in the kitchen, and others making arrangements for departure ; 
when orders were given to cross the street to Fenner's wharf and 
embark, which soon took place, and a sea-captain acted as steersman, 
of each boat, of whom I recollect Oapt. Abraham AVhij^ple, Capt. John 
B. Hopkins, (with whom I embarked,) and Capt. Benjamin Dunn. 
A line from right to left was soon formed, with Capt. Whipple on the 
right, and Capt. Hopkins on the right of the left wing. The party 
thus pi-oceeded till within about sixty yards of the Gaspee, when a 
sentinel hailed, " Who comes there ? " No answer. He hailed again, 
and no answer. In about a minute Duddingston mounted the star- 
board gunwale in his shirt, and hailed, " W^ho comes there ? " No 
answer. ^ He hailed again, when Capt. Whipple answered as follows : 
" I am the shei-iflf of the county of Kent, God damn you ; I have got 
a warrant to apprehend you, God damn you, so surrender, God damn 
you." I took my seat on the main thwart, near the larboard row- 
lock, with my gun by my right side and facing forwards. As soon as 
Duddingston began to hail, Joseph Bucklin, who was standing on the 
main thwart by my right side, said to me, " Eph. reach me your gun, 
I can kill that fellow." I reached it to him accordingly, when, during 
Capt. Whipple's replying, Bucklin fired and Duddingston fell, and 
Bucklin exclaimed : " I have killed the rascal ! " In less -time than 
a minute after Capt. Wliipple's answer, the boats were alongside of 
the Gaspee, and she was boarded without opposition. The men on 
deck retreated below, as Duddingston entered the cabin. As it was ^ 
discovered that he was wounded, John Mawney, who had for two 
or three years been studying phy&ic and surgery, was ordered to go 
into the cabin and dress Duddingston's wound, and I was directed to 
assist him. On examination it was found that the ball took elfect 



CHAP, about five inches directly below the navel. Duddingston called for 
XIX. Mr. Dickinson to produce bandages and other necessaries, for dressing 
tlie AYOund, and when finished orders were given to the schooner's 
L. ' company to collect their clothing and every thing belonging to them, 
and put them into their boats, as all of them were to be sent on shore. 
All were soon collected and put on board the boats, including one of 
our boats. They departed and landed Duddingston at the old still 
house wharf at Pawtuxet, and put the chief into the house of Joseph 
Ehodes. Soon after, all the party were ordered to depart, leaving 
one boat for the leaders of the expedition, who soon set the vessel on 
fire, which consumed her to the waters edge. 

The names of the most conspicuous are Mr. John Brown, Capt. 
Abraham AVhipple, John B. Hopkins, Benjamin Dunn, and five others, 
whose names I have forgotten, and John Mawney, Benjamin Page, 
Joseph Bucklin, and Turpin Smith, my youthful companions, all of 
wljom are dead, I believe every man of the party, excepting myself ; 
and my age is eighty-six years this twenty-ninth day of August, 
eighteen hundred and thirty-nine. 

Augunt 29t/i, 1839. Epheaim Bowen. 

Tlie reader will observe two discrepancies between the 
above narrative and that given in the text ; one as to the 
name of Capt. Lindsc}^, which was Benjamin, as given in 
tlie papers of the day, and not Thomas, as stated by Col. 
Bowen ; the other as to the date of the affair. The Han- 
nah arrived at Xewport on the 8th of June, and the next 
afternoon proceeded np the bay, chased by the Gaspee. 
The attack was planned and executed on the night of the 
9th, but not completed, bj the burning of the vessel, till 
daylight of the 10th, so tliat either date, the 9th or 10th, 
is applicable to the event. 



1Y72— 1776. 


"While the capture of the Gaspee was exciting the ^^^^ 
public mind throughout the colonies, and while the bold — ^ 
assertion of the supremacy of law over arbitrary power 
was being made in Ehode Island, by the trial of Dud- 
dingston upon a civil suit for damages, a case involving 
the high question of freedom in another form was agitat- 
ing the courts and the people of England. For some 
years past the subject of negro slavery had been dis- 
cussed in Massachusetts, and two years before this time 
an act to prohibit the further importation of Africans was 
moved in the Assembly of Rhode Island. The case of 
Somerset, a slave from Virginia, taken to England by his 
master, and there refusing service, for which Iw. was about 
to be shipped to Jamaica for sale, came up, on a writ of 
habeas corj^us, before the Court of King's Bench. Tlie 
famous decision of Lord Mansiiekl declared that slavery 22. 
could only exist by positive law, and tliat the contem- 
plated action of the owner in this case, Avas directly con- 
trary to the laws of England. He therefore decreed the 
discharge of Somerset, and proclaimed the doctrine that 
slavery could not exist on English soil. The effect of this 
decision upon the colonies, was to confirm the views 
already expressed by many writers, to stimulate legisla- 
voL. II. — 57 



CHAP, tion against tlie system, and to hasten the emancipation 
of slaves in Xew Enghmd. 

1772. The General Assembly laid another tax of twelve 
thousand pounds, being the third of this amount, and for 
similar j^urposes, in annual succession. The crime of horse 
stealing had become so frequent, that a severe statute was 
enacted against it. The estate of the offender was to be 
confiscated, he was to be three times publicly whipped 
with thirty -nine lashes, to be banished from the colony, 
and in case of his return to suffer death. A reward of six 
pounds was to be paid to any one who should arrest the 
thief, and the horse might be recovered by its owner with- 
out regard to any sale, the old legal maxim caveat emjptor^ 
being specially applied to the purchase of horses.^ The 
small-pox having again been introduced by a vessel ar- 
riving at Newport, it was proposed in the Assembly to 
allow the practice of inoculation. This preventive, which 
humanity owes to the Turks, w^as violently opposed by 

2?^7 8 ^^^y persons.^ In Newport, town meetings were held 
29. on four successive days, to instruct their deputies on the 
subject. The attendance was very full, and the vote close, 
but only once did the advocates of inoculation secure a 
small majority of seven, the decision in the other three 
cases being adverse upon a larger, but yet closer vote. In 
2^ consequence of this the Assembly rejected the proposition, 
and the only mode of prevention that remained was that 
of quarantine or the hospital. The occasions for firing 
royal salutes from the fort were established. They were 
the birth-days of the King and Queen, the anniversaries 
of the accession and coronation of his Majesty, and elec- 
tion day. The accounts of the sufferers by the stamp act 
riot were again discussed, reductions in them proposed, 

^ This act was essentially modified at a later day, but some of its pro- 
visions remained in force until a recent period. For the last infliction of 
whipping in Rhode Island, which was for this cause, see chap. v. vol. L, p. 
129, note. 

^ For a note upon this subject, see chap. xii. vol. i., p. 523. 



and the proceedings ordered to be sent to England, with citap. 
another application for the payment of the old war debt. 
The thanks of the colony were voted to Henry Marchant, 1772. 
who had returned home with encouraging reports, never 
to be realized, of the prospect of speedy payment. Lot- 
teries for several churches were granted, among which 
was one for King's Church in Providence, now St. John's, 
which also w^as incorporated at this session. 

On the day that this Assembly met, an important 
movement was commenced in Boston, to state the rights 
of the colonies, with the infringements thereon, and to 
communicate the same to the other towns in the province, 
with the request for an interchange of view^s on the sub- 
ject. To the attempts to tax the colonies and to restrict 
their trade, was added a new cause of complaint — the pro- 
posal in the instructions to the Gaspee commissioners, to 
send the guilty parties to England for trial. The action 
of Boston met with a ready response from the other towns, -^^^ 
and when the report of the committee upon rights and 20. 
violations w^as made, the movement was already well ad- 
vanced, and the spirit of resistance was freely manifested 
throughout the province. 

A short session of the General Assembly was held, at Dec. 
which nothing of interest was done. In this first stage of 
the revolution, committees of correspondence were pre- 
paring the results, and performing the duties which, at a 
later period, devolved upon the legislatures. The affair 
of the Gaspee occupied all minds. Hutchinson proposed 
to annul the charter of Rhode Island, and a committee' 25. 
wTote to Samuel Adams for his .counsel in the matter. 
His reply was an appeal for union, since " an attack upon 28. 
the liberties of one colony was an attack upon the liberties 
of all." ^ The year closed amid gloomy forebodings of 
evil. The court of inquiry upon the destruction of the 

^ This committee consisted of Deputy-Governor Sessions, Chief-Justice 
Hopkins, John Cole, and Moses Brown. 

^ Bancroft's History of U. S., chap, xlviii., vol. vi., p. 441. 



CHAP. Gaspee, opened the new year. Their faihire has already 
been detailed. The Assembly convened at Greenwich 

1773. while the court was sitting at Newport, as if to Avatch 
their proceedings, but nothing occurred on the part of 
the commissioners to call for legislative action. Gov. 
Wanton exhibited his instructions to arrest the offenders, 
and send them to England for trial. This was a severe 
blow to the colony, thus to be singled out as the victim 
of royal displeasure, and to bear the test of an unconstitu- 
tional decree. But resistance was determined upon. 
Chief-Justice Hopkins asked the advice of the Assembly 
what course he should adopt, and was told to use his own 
discretion when the case arose. " Then, for the purpose 
of transportation for trial, I will neither apprehend any 
person by my own order, nor suffer any executive officers 
in the colony to do it," " was the prompt reply of this fear- 
less champion and earliest advocate of colonial freedom. 
Fortunately the results of the commission did not warrant 
an arrest, and the inevitable crisis was yet for a time 

Tlie arrogant temper of Admiral Montagu was not 
19. allayed by his visit to Rhode Island. He complained to 
the Admiralty that proper respect was not shown to his 
flag, the fort having failed to salute upon his arrival. 
Lord Dartmouth, who, the preceding August, had suc- 
j^^^. ceeded the Earl of Hillsborougli as American Secretary, 

3. rebuked the colony for this neglect, and ordered that the 
broad pennant should, in all cases, receive in Rhode Island, 
as elsewhere, the customary honors. 

The Boston movement to unite all the towns in the 
province, with an ultimate view to a similar pinion of tlie 

4. colonies, was approved by the legislature of Virginia, and 
immediately extended, by that body, over all the colonies. 
Resolutions, advising the appointment of intercolonial 

12. committees of correspondence were unanimously passed. 

^ Letter of Dr. Stiles, of Newport, February 16, 1773, in Bancroft's 
History of U. S., vol. vi,, p. 451. 



and sent to every colony for general approval and adop- CIIAP. 
tion. Thus was created at once, in effect, an American 
Confederacy, to complete wliicli but one more step was 1773. 
needed — that these several committees should convene -^^^^^ 
and form an American Congress. It was reserved for 
Rhode Island, ere long, to propose this final measure for 
the formation of the American Union. 

The suits against Duddingston were not the only evi- 
dence given by the people of this colony of their determi- 
nation to make the military subordinate to the civil powder. 
To maintain their chartered rights was ever the object 
nearest to their hearts, and this could only be secured by 
firmness of conduct in every case that infringed upon their 
liberties. The naval ofiicers, unused to a freedom that 
dared to hold them personally accountable for their acts, 
were overbearing in their mode of fulfilling their commis- 
sions. The loss of one vessel, and the harassing suits 
against her commander, liad not sufticed to convince the 
ofiicers of the spirit of the people, or to subject them to 
the control of the civil laws. Since these events, Capt. 
Keeler, of the Mercury, the senior ofiicer on the station, 
had arrested, in September last, the master and mate of 
the brig Spy wood, at ]S"ewport, from the AYest Indies, and 
had seized a portion of the cargo legally entered at the 
custom-house. Two actions of trespass were brought 
against him by the ofiicers, and one of trover by the 
owner of the brig, whicli were tried at this term of the 19, 
Superior Court, and verdicts found for the plaintifis in 
each case. It has already been mentioned, that at the 
adjom-ned meeting of the court of inquiry in May, Keeler jj;^^ 
was unable to attend on account of writs bein^i^ out ac^ainst 
him Avliich prevented his coming on shore. 

Although the May session of the x\ssemblv was 
always short, and usually confined to the election of g 
ofiicers, the one now held was extremely important, on 
account of the action of the deputies in response to the 
house of burgesses in Virginia. They unanimously 


CHAP, adopted the proposals made by that body, and in con- 
^^^^ formity tlierewith, Avere the first to follow the example of 
1773. Virginia in electing a committee of correspondence, 
whose duties were " to obtain the most early and authen- 
tic intelligence of all such acts and resolutions of the 
British Parliament, and measures of the ministry, as may 
relate to, or affect, the British colonies in America ; and 
to maintain a correspondence and communication with 
the other colonies, respecting these imj^ortant considera- 
tions." ' They were directed to obtain from the governor 
a copy of the commission and proceedings of the Gaspee 
court of inquiry ; to report the further action of said court 
from time to time, and to transmit copies of the same to 
Virginia and to all the other legislatures. The committee 
immediately sent out its circulars to the other colonies, 
extolling the patriotism of the Virginia resolutions, and 
urging a prompt compliance with the proposals. Warlike 
precautions w^ere also taken at this time. The platforms 
for the battery at Fort George were repaired, and new 
carriages were made for the guns formerly used on the 
colony war-sloop. The people of 'New Shoreham renewed 
their petition for a harbor at Block Island, to be made by 
opening the passage from the salt pond, which had been 
closed for many years, and a committee was appointed to 
examine the locality, who reported favorably as to the 
feasibility of the plan. 

The embarrassed condition of the East India company, 
led to further legislation in Parliament on their behalf. 
The drawback upon teas exported to America, which had 
lately been reduced to three-fifths of the duty, was now 
IQ revived as to the whole. Tlie act went into efi"ect at this 
time, and arrangements were made for sending large 

^ This committee consisted of Metcalf Bowler, a deputy from Ports- 
month, Associate Justice of the Superior Court and Speaker of the Houso ; 
Ex-Governor Stephen Hopliins, a deputy from Providence, and Chief-Justice 
of the colony ; Moses Brown, Wm. Bradford, a deputy from Bristol; Henry 
Marchant, Attorney-General ; Henry Ward, Secretary ; and John Cole. 



quantities of tea to America. It was proposed also to CHAP, 
remove the import duty of threepence a pound, but to 
this the ministry would not consent. Tlie determination 1773. 
to tax America upon principle was irrevocable, and an- 
other trial on a larger scale was soon to be made. 

The death of Joseph Sherwood deprived the colony of J^"® 
the services of one who for fourteen years had been its 
asrent in London. But the time was at hand when colo- 
nial agents would no longer be required at the British 
capital. - 

The exposure of the letters of Gov. Hutchinson, and ^' 
other enemies of freedom in America, which Franklin had 
obtained in England and sent over to Massachusetts, 
caused great excitement. They were published in the 
papers with indignant comments. Among them was the 
letter of George Rome, written six years before, denounc- 
ing the government and courts of Rhode Island, and now 
first brought to light.' This letter was printed in the 
newspapers, and on broadside, and circulated through- 
out the colony as the incendiary missive of a secret foe. Aug. 
It was read in the General Assembly by the Speaker, a 
debate ensued, and its further consideration was postponed 
till the original, which alone could furnish the basis of 
legal action, could be obtained from Massachusetts. Its 
author was denounced at town meetings in Providence, 
Johnston, and Coventry, and their deputies were instruct- 31. 
ed to inquire into the truth of the charges therein con- 
tained, and, if found to be fiilse, then to endeavor to bring 
the writer to justice as a public defamer. 

An act was pending in Parliament to regulate the 
fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the terms of which 
alarmed those engaged in that pursuit. A petition on 
the subject was presented to the Assembly, in consequence IG. 
of which a letter to Lord Dartmouth was prepared, pray- 
ing that the freedom of the fisheries might not be restrict- 

^ This letter was written December 22, 17 G 7, and is referred to under 
that date in chap, xviii. 



CHAP. ed. The debts of Thomas Ninigret, late sacliem of the 
Xarragansets, having been discharged by the sale of lands 

1773. belonging to the tribe, the remaining lands were secured 
to them, beyond the contingency of debt, and the bounds 
were ordered to be surveyed. A tax of four thousand 
pounds was assessed, one-half to pay certain claims on 
the colony, and one-half for current expenses. The an- 
nual expenses of government at this period, did not vary 
much from two thousand pounds, lawful money, or about 
six thousand six hundred sixty-seven dollars. 

^g*- When the news of shipments of tea to four of the prin- 
cijjal American ports was received, Philadelphia was the 
first to oppose the attempt, in a public meeting, by the 
adoption of a series of eight resolutions, wherein the con- 
signees Avere requested to resign, and whoever should aid 
in receiving the cargoes, was pronounced as " an enemy 
to his country." ^ No teas were shipped to Kliode Island^ 

27. so that the Assembly took no action on the subject. 
29. George Rome was brought to the bar of the house of 

deputies, upon a warrant, to answer for his libellous letter, 
liefusing to reply directly to the questions put to him at 
the examination, he was committed to jail at South Kings- 
town, for contempt, till the close of the session. 
Nov. The Philadelphia resolutions were adopted in Boston, 
^' and a vain elfort was made to induce the consignees to re- 
sign. Several meetings were held through the month for 
this ])urpose, but with a like result. At length the first 
cargo of the " pernicious weed," so long expected, arrived 

28. at Boston. People flocked in from the neighboring towns 

29. to attend a great meeting, at which it was determined to 
send the ships back to England without discharging their 
teas. A permanent volunteer guard, varying from twenty- 
four to thirty-four men, was placed around the wharf. 
The consignees took refuge in the castle, but refused to 
return the teas. The governor sent the sheriff to disperse 

^ The resolutions were printed in the Providence Gazette of October 30, 



the meeting Vv'liicli had assembled to receive the re}>ly of 
the consignees. lie was received with hisses and a refn- vJ~^ 
sal to dissolve. The owners of the sliip, however, agreed l**"^'^- 
that the tea shonld not be landed. The arrival of another Dec. 3. 
tea ship increased the excitement. She was moored by 
the side of the first, that the same guard might watch 
both. Tlie committee of correspondence wrote to Provi- 5. 
dence, Bristol, and Xewport, and to other places, for ad- 
vice and co-operation. A third tea ship soon followed, and lo. 
was placed at the same wharf with the others. Meetings 
were held daily in Boston and other towns. The twenty 
days, when it would be lawful for the ciistom-honse to 
seize the first ship and land the teas, had nearly elapsed. 
The crisis had arrived. A vast assemblage, estimated at 
seven thousand men, gathered in Boston to take the deci- iq^ 
sive step. It was evening when the owner of the ship 
appeared, and announced that the governor had refused a 
permit for the vessel, without which she could not pass 
the guns of the castle. Samuel Adams dissolved the 
meeting, and at the same instant the war-whoop sounded, 
and a body of forty or fifty men, disguised as Indians, 
passed down to the wharf, stationed guards to prevent in- 
trusion, and taking possession of the three ships, in about 
two hours threw overboard all the tea, amounting to 
three hundred forty-two chests. Another vessel with tea 1774. 
was w^recked on Cape Cod, and a portion of the damaged Jan.l. 
cargo was landed at Castle William. The ships destined 
for other j^orts, warned by the fate of those at Boston, 
and finding no consignees upon their arrival, either re- 
turned at once to England, or had their cargoes seized for 
the duties, and stored in the custom-house. 

The people of Newport, anticipating an attempt on the 
part of the East India Company to introduce their tea at 
that place, called the first meeting held in Bhode Island 12. 
on this subject. They adopted resolutions similar to those 
in Philadelphia, and also agreed to sustain the other col- 
onies in their measures. Copies of the proceedings were 


CHAP, sent to all the towns, with a request that they would pur- 
^^^^ sue the same course. Providence follow^ed the example the 
1774. next week, and in a short time most of the other tow^ns in 
the colony held meetings for the same purpose. Some of 
these confined their attention to the duty on tea, while 
others entered more at large into the grievances of the 

2T. When the news of the Boston tea party reached Eng- 
land, the feeling against America became intense. Frank- 
lin had already presented the petition of Massachusetts 
for the removal of Governor Hutchinson and of Chief- 

29- Justice Oliver. At the hearing before the Privy Council, 
he was treated with great indignity, the petition was 
rejected, and his office of deputy -postmaster for America, 
in the execution of which he had organized, upon a remu- 
nerative basis, the postal system of the colonies, was taken 
from him. Tlie Lords of the Council triumplied that day 
over the venerable patriot, but confessed, a few years 
later, that it was a costly victory. A series of meetings 
in the several towns of Phode Island were held during the 
Feb. next two months, commencing with Westerly, the home 

^' of Gov. Samuel Ward, whose patriotic spirit prepared 
and supported a set of resolutions that covered the wdiole 
ground of colonial complaint. The idea of a general con- 
gress, to which he was destined to be one of the first ap- 
pointed delegates, was already familiar to many minds, 
and was broached by the various committees of corre- 

^ Warren held the next meeting, Westerly met on February 2d, Little 
Compton on the 3d, Middletown on the 9th, South Kingstown, Jamestown, 
and Hopkinton followed, Bristol and Richmond on 28th, New Shoreham on 
March 2d, Cumberland 18th, Barrington 21st. The Middletown resolutions 
on 9th February were the most concise. " Mr. John Clarke, moderator. The 
town came into the following resolves : — 1. Resolved, That we will have 
nothing to do with the East India Company's irksome tea, nor any other 
subject to the like duty. 2. Resolved, That we will heartily unite with our 
American Brethren in supporting the inhabitants of this continent in all 
their just rights and privileges ; and w^e do disown any right in the Parlia- 
ment of Great Britain to tax America. Voted and passed. Witness, John 
Laiker, town clerk." 


spondence. At a public meeting in Boston, John Ilan- CIIAP. 
cock, another future delegate, proposed it in direct terms.' 
The movement was hastened by the conduct of the British 1774. 
ministry in preparing a series of acts to punish the town 
of Boston. The proposal of Lord In orth to this effect, was 14. 
so favorably received by the House of Commons, that he ig, 
at once introduced the famous act known as the Boston 
Port Bill, closing that harbor against all commerce. 
After a short debate it passed without a division, and in 25. 
the House of Lords was carried almost unanimously. 29. 

The removal of Franklin fronl his lucrative position of 
supei-intendent of the American post-office, was not so dis- 
astrous to the colonies as it might have been, had they 
not already taken the subject in hand, and prepared to 
organize a postal system independent of Great Britain. 
William Goddard, formerly printer of the Providence 
Gazette, and of late engaged in the same business at 
Philadelphia and Baltimore, undertook the arduous task 
of re-organizing the system throughout the colonies. He 
prepared a plan, and visiting every colony, submitted it 
to the consideration of the people, by whom it was cor- 
dially approved. The existing system was opposed as 
being " unconstitutional, and a usurpation of the British 
Parliament no longer to be borne." The act by which it 
was established, was denounced as being " a revenue act, 
formidable and dangerous to the liberties of America, as 
the officers have it in their power to intercept our com- 
munications, to extort what they please, and to employ 
them to divide us and then to enslave us." ^ 

Immediately follownig the Boston Port Bill, came the April 
a])pointment of General Gage to be governor of Massa- 2- 
cliusetts, in place of Hutchinson, who, it was rumored, 
was about to return to England. Thus were united the 
powers of commander-in-chief of the armies in America, 

' On 5th March. 

^ Letter of William Cooper, clerk of the committee of correspondence 
in Boston, to the committee of correspondence in Newport. — Boston, March 
29, 1774. 


CHAP, to those of civil governor over a rebellious province. 
^J5^ Four regiments of troops were ordered to accompany 
1774. Gage to his destination. The new governor was instruct- 
"^P"^ ed to send home the chiefs of tlie insurrection, especially 
Samuel Adams, Hancock, and Warren, for trial. 

Yet one more effort was made in the British Parlia- 
ment for reconciliation. It was proposed to repeal the 
19. duty on tea. In the debate that ensued, Edmund Burke 
delivered that splendid oration, the first in tlie series of 
his published works, which might have saved an empire 
had its eloquence and arguments availed aught against 
the foregone conclusion of the Commons and the ministry. 
28. The next act against Massachusetts was a virtual 
abrogation of the charter, vesting all power in the gov- 
ernor, and abolishing town meetings, except for the elec- 
tion of local officers. This was followed by a third penal 
bill, transferring for trial to Nova Scotia, or England, any 
servants of the crown who might be charged with murder 
committed, in support of government, in any of the colo- 
nies. A singular and permanent result of this measure to 
the British people, was the abolishment of secret debates 
in Parliament. A fourth bill, revising the old billeting 
act, provided for quartering troops in Boston. The fifth 
and last act in this legislative drama, called the Quebec 
act, designed to prevent the union of Canada with the 
other colonies, guaranteed the church property to the 
French Roman Catholics, restored the civil law, and ex- 
tended the boundaries of the province to the Mississippi 
on the west and the Ohio on the south. All of these bills, 
introduced in rapid succession, were passed by very large 
majorities. But the tragedy of Lord ^sTorth was rehearsed 
in Parliament with greater success than attended its re- 
ce})tion by the American people, 
^ay 4. -^t the meeting for election, the Assembly ordered a 
census of the colony to be taken, and appointed one man 
in each town for that purpose. The result showed the 
entire population to be 59,678, of whom 54,435 were 



whites, 3,761 blacks, and 1,4S2 Indians.* Renewed at- CIIAP. 
tention to military matters began to be shown. Arming 3^ 
and drilling were undertaken at private expense. A de- 1774. 
terinined spirit was aroused, which contemplated further -^^^ 
and united resistance to British aggression. The House 
of Deputies of Rhode Island had sent a circular to all the 
colonies, urging immediate union for the common safety. 
Favorable replies had already been received from the 
greater number. Important events now succeeded each 
other in rapid succession. The news of the Boston Port 10. 
Bill hastened the crisis. A conference of committees 
from the neighboring towns was called at Boston, and on 
the day that it met, Metcalf Bowler,^ Speaker of the 
Rhode Island Assembly, brought to them the joyful news 
that every government had acceded to the proposals of 
the circular, and the preliminaries for a union were com- 
plete. The next day Gen. Gage arrived, and landed at 13. 
Castle William, where Hutchinson had some time before 
taken refuge. After a delay of four days at the castle, he 17. 
made his public entry into Boston, amid salutes and aj)- 
propriate civic tokens of respect. 

On the same day the people of Providence, assembled 
in town meeting, formally proposed the last remaining 
act necessary to a union of the colonies — the Continental 
Congress. The idea had become familiar to the popular 
mind ; it had been proposed in the addresses of public 

^ Newport contained 9,209 inhabitants, and Providence 4,321. The 
number of families in Providence was 655, and of dwelling-houses, 421. In 
this census, only those actually at home at the time were counted. Seamen, 
and other temporary absentees, were omitted. The returns were made at 
the June session. The population by counties was : Newport, 15,929 ; Prov- 
idence, 19,206; Kings, 13,866; Kent, 7,888; Bristol, 2,789. 

^ Hon. Metcalf Bowler died at Providence, September 19, 1789, at an 
advanced age. He was an eminent merchant in Newport prior to the 
Prench war and down to the Revolution, at which time he was among the 
most active friends of liberty. For several years he was a Judge of the 
Superior Court, and Speaker of the House of Deputies. He lost his ample 
fortune during the war, and at the return of pence removed to Providence, 
where he kept a boarding-house until his death. 



CHAP, speakers, and suggested by committees of correspondence ; 
^^^t the formal proposition had never yet been made by 

1774. any responsible and authorized body. The movement had 
not received the sanction of any legally constituted au- 
thority, until made at this meeting of the freemen of Prov- 
idence. We therefore claim for "Rhode Island the distin- 
guished honor of making the first explicit movement, 
for a general congress,' and a few weeks later her legisla- 
ture was also the very first to elect delegates to that Con- 
gress. After resolving " that this town will heartily join " 
with the other colonies in defence of their rights, the 
second resolution proposes : " That the deputies of this 
town be requested to use their influence at the approach- 
ing session of the General Assembly of this colony, for 
promoting a Congress as soon as may be, of the Repre- 
sentatives of the General Assemblies of the several colo- 
nies and provinces of North America, for establishing the 
firmest Union, and adopting such measures as to them 
shall appear the most elFectual to answer that important 
purpose ; and to agree upon proper methods for executing 
the same." The next expresses sympathy wdth the op- 
pressed people of Boston, and recommends " a universal 
stoppage of all trade with Great Britain, Ireland, Africa, 

* Mr. Baucroft, History U. S., vol. vii., p. 40, gives this honor to New 
York, because the old committee of correspondence of the Sons of Liberty 
in that city, Avhen about to resign their duties to a new and larger commit- 
tee, on the 16th of May, the day before the Providence meeting, "proposed 
— and they were the first to propose — 'a general congress.'" ^any of the 
legislative and municipal committees of correspondence in Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, Virginia, and elsewhere, had, before this time, suggested the 
" idea of a congress. John Hancock had proposed it in a pubUc meeting on 
the 5th of March at Boston. But none of these suggestions were, so to 
speak, official. They were the natural emanations of patriotic spirits, en- 
titled to speak for themselves alone. It would be difficult to say where the 
honor really belongs if we are to award it to the originator of the idea of a 
congress at this crisis ; whether it came from some individual thinker, or was 
first developed by some committee of correspondence. In either case, the 
earliest action on the subject that carried with it the weight of established 
authority, was that recorded in the text. 



and tlie West Indies, nntil such time as the port of Boston chap. 
shall be reinstated in its former privileges." .ji^^ 

Another subject of historical interest was acted upon 1774. 
by this meeting. A man dying intestate and without ^^^^ 
heirs, his property, which included six negroes, fell to the 
town. The meeting voted that "it is unbecoming the 
character of freemen to enslave the said negroes," re- 
nounced their claim, and took them under their protec- 
tion. Carrying out the same idea to its logical result, 
they resolved, " as personal liberty is an essential part of 
the natural rights of mankind," to petition the Assembly 
to prohibit the further importation of slaves, and to de- 
clare that all negroes born in the colony should be free 
after a certain age. 

A letter sympathizing with the people of Boston, was 19, 
sent from Westerly, and a public meeting, held at New- 20. 
port, made common cause with that town, and united in 
the non-importation project. 

The legislature of Yirginia was dissolved by the gov- 26. 
ernor for its adhesion to the cause of liberty. The mem- 
bers met immediately, and advised a Continental Con- 
gress, which was communicated to Rhode Island, the 28. 
news of whose action on that subject had not reached 
A\"illiamsburg, and to the other colonies, by their connnit- 
tee of correspondence. Thus spontaneously did the idea 
of a congress shape itself, almost at the same moment, and 
without mutual consultation, in communities remote from 
each other. 

The day on which the Boston Port Bill took effect, June 
which Yirginia had set apart as a day of fasting and ^' 
prayer, and almost every other colony observed as a day 
of mourning, Gov. Hutchinson sailed for England. The 
next day news of the passage of two of the other penal 2. 
bills was received in Boston. The non-importation league 
was prepared, and sent to every town in Massachusetts, 5. 
agreeing to suspend all trade with Great Britain, and all 
consumption of her fabrics after the month of August. 



CHAP. While tlie General Court of Massachusetts, to whom, 
t)J common consent, had been assigned the honor of fixing 
1774. a time and place for the meeting of Congress, were arrang- 
ing this important business at Salem, the General Asseni- 
15. bly of Ehode Island met at Kewport, and elected Stephen 
Hopkins and Samuel Ward as delegates to the Congress. 
At the same time they passed a series of six resolutions, 
counselling union, and an immediate meeting of Congress 
to petition for redress, and to devise measures to secure 
their rights, and also recommending annual sessions of the 
Congress. The Speaker was ordered to send copies of 
these resolves to all the other colonies. Thus Rhode 
Island, as she had been the first, through the means of 
town meetings, to propose a Continental Congress, was 
also the earliest to a])point delegates to attend it. It is 
significant of the unanimity of the people in this matter, 
that the two delegates selected, were the ex-governors 
whose rival parties had for so many years divided the 
councils of the colony. 

Military matters, naturally enough, were next consid- 
ered. The stores at Fort George were examined. The 
charter of the Providence county Artillery, granted thirty 
years before, was amended by a change of name to the 
" Cadet Company," the corps was ofhcered on a regimen- 
tal basis, and the righ t of the line assigned to it in express 
terms, to avoid any future dispute and altercation." 
The Light Infantry Company of Providence, to consist of 
one hundred men, was then chartered, and its station ap- 
])ointed to be " in front of the left wing of the regiment." 
The Assembly appointed a day of fasting and prayer, in 
view of the troubles threatening the country, and with 
especial reference to the distresses of Massachusetts. A 
vote of commiseration for the poor of Boston, with a 
promise of future assistance, was passed. 

The subject of slavery, which four years before had 
received attention, w\as again consid(3red, in consequence 
of the action of the town of Providence. " As those who 



are desirous of enjoying all the advantages of liberty them- cnAP. 
selveii, should be willing to extend personal liberty to J^^!^ 
others," reads the preamble, and then proceeds to enact 1774. 
" that for the future no negro or mulatto slave shall be '^"^^^ 
brought into this colony," or if any were brought in they 
should thereby become free, except the servants of passing 
travellers, or of British colonists, residing here for a term 
of years, who on their departure should take their slaves 
with them, or negroes brought from Africa by way of the 
West Indies, whose owners should give bonds to export 
them within one year. To prevent slaves being brought 
here for the purpose of receiving their freedom, and so 
becoming a charge upon the public, a line was prescribed, 
which was also attached to the harboring any slave thus 
introduced. In this decided action, Rhode Island again 
took the lead of all her sister colonies. The earliest law 
against slavery to be found in the pages of American his^ 
tory, save only an imperfect statute of Massachusetts, 
somewhat earlier, but much less explicit, was enacted by 
Rhode Island in 1652.' The sentiments of the people, 
adverse to the system, were afterwards expressed from 
time to time in various statutes relating to the subject, 
but of late years attention had been drawn to it more , 
directly by the free discussion that foi-* some time had 
been going on in the papers and pamphlets of the day. 
This discussion had led, four years before, to a proposal 
in the Assembly, of the measure now enacted, and of 
which the immediate cause appears to have been that 
which moved the people of Providence in their action, and 
is recited in the preamble. 

This Assembly granted a lottery of two thousand 
pounds for erecting the new church of the First Baptist 
Society in Providence, which was completed and occu- 
pied the following May. They also incorporated the 
First Congregational Church at JSi ewport, being the sixth 

' See chap, viii., vol. i., p. 240. 
VOL. II. — 58 



CHAP, charter of tlie kind granted in the colony. Rev. Samuel 
Hopkins was pastor of this church. His views on certain 

1774. doctrinal points were peculiar, and were enforced with 

'^^"^ the energy of conviction, and the ability of a solid intel- 
lect, giving rise to a religious party called from his name, 
Hopkinsians. His writings upon all questions display 
remarkable power, and his tracts on slavery doubtless 
aided to effect the abolition of the system in this colony, 
as above recorded. The distinctive doctrine in the Hop- 
kinsian theology, was the addition to the five points of 
Calvinism of a milder element of charity, making piety 
to consist in pure benevolence, and ranking selfishness 
among the greatest, as it is the most common of sins. 
30. Th^ fast day appointed by the Assembly, was observed 
with great solemnity throughout the colony. Ships of 

J"ly war with more troops began to arrive at Boston. The 
town assumed the appearance of a vast camp, business 
was suspended, and much distress prevailed among the 
j)Oorer classes. From every part of the country contribu- 
tions of money and provisions were made for their relief. 

Aiig. A town meeting in Providence instructed their deputies 
to procure a grant of money from the colony, to be made 
in behalf of Boston. A similar meeting was held at New- 
22. port. The General Assembly met at Greenwich, but 
nothing of importance was done, except to incorporate the 
Congregational Church in that town, which had recently 

29. been formed. Subscriptions were raised in Greenwich to 

30. purchase provisions for Boston, and the next day at New- 
port the town appointed a committee to receive donations 
for the same object. In Jamestown, Westerly, and other 

• towns, liberal sums were given for this purpose. Many 

citizens left the beleaguered town in search of work, and 
others, friendly to the British government, sought refuge 
abroad from popular odium. Among these latter, one 
Jonathan Simpson, a hardw^are dealer, came to Provi- 
dence. His Tory views were disliked by the people, who 
20. one Saturday night covered liis doors and windows with 



tar and featliers. On Monday he prudently retui-ned to ciLvr. 
Boston. In the same week, one De Shazro, a tinman, 
came from Boston intending to settle at Providence, but 1774. 
the inhabitants, knowing him to be a Tory, warned him ^"^^^3' 
away, and he went back the next day. A meeting was 
soon after held to protest against the town being made a 30. 
resort for the enemies of the country, and to request the 
council legally to remove any such persons, in order to 
prevent further breaches of the j^eace. That night some 
riotous demonstrations occurred, in consequence of which 
another meeting was held to protest against such proceed- 31. 
ings, and to insist upon the supremacy of the laws. 

The seizure by Gage of a large quantity of powder Sept. 
and some cannon belonging to the province, caused great ^' 
excitement. All over Massachusetts and a portion of 
Connecticut, under Gen. Putnam, the people arose in 
threatening attitude, and began to march towards Boston. 
The counsellors whom Gage had selected, were compelled 
to resign their seats, and wdiile these tumults were in pro- 
gress. Gage suggested to the ministry the employment of 
Indians to fight against America — a scheme which stirred 
the indignant eloquence of Chatham and Burke to utter, 
although in vain, those great master-pieces of British 
oratory against this climax of cruelty. A siege was now 
impending from the land side of the town, and to preserve 
his position, Gage commenced to fortify Boston Neck. 5. 
The same day the Continental Congress met at Philadel- 

Twelve colonies, Georgia alone being unrepresented, 
sent fifty-three delegates to that body. It was agreed to 
vote by colonies, and that each should have one vote. The 
destinies of America hung upon the deliberations of that 
noble band. They adopted a Declaration of Rights, and 
recommended an " American Association " to sustain 
them, the chief articles of which were, non-intercourse 
with Gi'eat Britain, till their grievances should be re- 
dressed, abolition of the slave trade, encouragement of 



CHAP, liome industry, and the ai^pointnient of committees of in- 
spection in every town and district, to see that its terms 
1774. were kept inviolate. They also adopted a petition to the 
Sept. Xiiig^ letters to the other British colonies, addresses to the 
Canadians, and to the people of Great Britain, and votes 
of thanks to the friends of America in Parliament. In- 
dependence was not yet thought of, but hopes of recon- 
ciliation were still entertained. 

12. A serious riot occurred at Providence, the first that 
we have noticed arising from the license question. One 
McCam had been informed against for keeping an un- 
licensed dram-shop. He and his friends made search at 
night for the informer. Joseph ^Nightengale, with a few 
other gentlemen attempted to dissuade them. The mob 
afterward surrounded the house of Col. Nightengale, and 
McCam attacked him with a cutlass, inflicting several 
wounds. The citizens soon dispersed the mob, arresting 
several of them, who were coiiynitted to jail for trial. A 

13. more serious affair took place at East Greenwich, requir- 
ing military aid from Providence to restore j^eace. 
Stephen Arnold, of Warwick, a Judge of Common Pleas, 
unjustly charged with Tory principles, had been hung in 
efligy at Greenwich. A mob of several hundred jieople 
from Warwick, threatened to destroy the village in re- 
venge for the insult put upon their towmsman. Deputy- 
Governor Sessions ordered the Cadets and Light Infantry 

• to Greenwich, to support the sheriff. A parley ensued, 
which resulted in Judge Arnold's making a written ac- 
knowledgment of his WTong in countenancing a riot, while 
he maintained his right to freely express his views, and 
declared himself opposed to the scheme for taxing America. 
This declaration being publicly read by him, both of the 
excited crowds dispersed peaceably, and the soldiers re- 
turned home. 

The town of Scituate chose a committee of correspond- 
ence, and collected donations for the relief of Boston. 
Bristol, Warren, l^orth and South Kingstown, Gloucester, 



North Providence, Coventry, Smitlifield, Johnston, Tiver- CIIAP. 
ton, and East Greenwich were active in the same cause, 
and sent large droves of sheep to the distressed Bosto- 1774. 
nians.* Great activity prevailed in oi*ganizing the militia. 
At Pawtuxet, Warren, East Greenwich, and other towns, 
companies were formed, and those in Providence were in- 
creased by a grenadier, an artillery, and a cavalry corps. 

Massachusetts, where. Gage having refused to qualify Oct. 5. 
the General Court at Salem, a provincial convention was 7. 
formed, which met at Concord and assumed the govern- 11. 
ment, subject to the action of the General Congress, was 
in a complete state of revolution. 

An order in council was issued at this time, to pro- 19. 
hibit the exportation of arms and ammunition from Great 
Britain. Dartmouth notified the colonies to seize any 
military stores that might be there imported, contrary to 
this decree. The action taken upon it in Phode Island, 
as soon as it became knowm, was characteristic, decisive, 
and as the event proved, contagious. 

The day on which Congress dissolved, the General 26. 
Assembly met at Providence. A tax of four thousand 
pounds, as last year, was laid upon the colony. Military 

^ In the Mass. Hist. Society archives the correspondence of the Boston 
committee with the contributors to the rehef of the poor in that town in 
1774-5, is preserved, MS. copies of all these letters that related to Rhode 
Island are now in the hands of the writer. Since these were made, the 
greater part have been published in iv. Mass. Hist. Cols., vol. 4. The dates 
of the action of the towns above enumerated, and of others on the same 
subject, mentioned in these pages, with the amount and kind of donations 
sent by each are specified in the correspondence, but the enumeration of 
each of these particulars would require more space than our limits afford. 
We give them in a note, arranged in the order in which, from the dates of 
the correspondence, it appears the donations were sent: — Scituate 120 
sheep, Gloucester 95, Smithfield 150, Johnston 57, East Greenwich 25 sheep 
and 4 oxen, Tiverton 72 sheep, S. Kingstown, 135, Providence 136 and £51 
in cash, Newport $1000 or £300, Cranston 4 oxen, N. Kingstown 70 sheep, 
Bristol £48, Warwick 5 oxen, N. Providence £18. — Total, 860 sheep, 13 
oxen, £417 in money, Little Compton sent £30, which does not appear in 
the correspondence ; and there were several large subscriptions by private 
persons besides. 



CHAP, biisi-iess occupied tlie session, wliicli lasted but four days. 
The ^Newport Light Iiifantiy, Providence Grenadiers, 

1774. Kentish Guards, Pawtuxet Rangers, and Gloucester Light 
Infantry were chartered. Among the applicants for these 
charters, were Jonathan Arnold for the Grenadiers, and 
James M. Yarnum, Christopher and Nathaniel Greene, 
and Archibald Crary for the Kentish Guards — names 
soon to become illustrious upon broader fields of civic 
and martial emprise. The Providence county militia 
were divided into three regiments, each to be a battalion, 
and tlie whole to form one brigade. The Light Lifantry 

29. held their first dress parade at the close of the session, 
concluding with a dinner to the company. 

Nov. The Pose, frigate, Ca])t. Wallace, was stationed at 
^' Newport for the winter, and repeated the annoyances of 
the Gaspee. Subscriptions for the relief of Boston con- 
21. tinned. Providence sent a hundred and twenty-five 
pounds ; Little Compton soon after voted thirty pounds, 
and Cranston sent some fat cattle. The advice of Con- 
gress in regard to the preservation of sheep, was com- 

24. mended to the people of Providence by the committee of 
correspondence ; and shipments of these animals to the 
West Indies were stopped. Newport was the first town 
in the colony to adopt the recommendations of Congress, 

25. by appointing a temporary committee of.inspection to act 
till after the meeting of tlie Assembly. 

A new Parliament, the last that was ever to legislate 
for revolted America, had just been elected. At its open- 

30. ing, the King presented the condition of the colonies, and 
the rebellion in Massachusetts as the absorbing topic. 
The venerable Chatham made one more eftort, in connec- 
tion with Franklin, to efiect a reconciliation. But George 
IIL, who possessed a love of prerogative like that of 
Elizabeth, without her ability to sustain it, would listen 

Dec.l. to no accommodation. The next day was the time set by 
Congress for the renewal of the non-importation scheme • 
that relating to non-exportation was deferred till nine 



inontlis later. A special session of the General Assembly CIIAP. 
was called, to hear the reports of. the delegates to act upon 
the proceedings of Congress. These were received and ap- 1774. 
proved, and the same delegates were elected to attend the ^g'^' 
next Congress in May. The letter of the Earl of Dart- 
month respecting military stores, was laid before the As- 
seml)ly, and inmiediately all the cannon and ammunition 
at Fort George, except three guns, were ordered to be re- 
moved to Providence by Col. Kightengale, with two as- 
sistants, there to be kept in his charge. This was done 
the next day, more than forty cannon, with a large 
amount of powder and shot, being thus conveyed to a 
j^lace of safety. In reply to a demand from AV all ace for 
an explanation of this act. Gov. Wanton distinctly told 
him it was done to prevent him from seizing the guns, 
and that they w^ould be nsed against any enemy of the 
colony.' A copy of Dartmouth's circular was sent at once 
to the Provincial Congress in Massachusetts. The colony 
fire arms at Newport were ordered to be distributed to 
the several counties in proportion to their tax rate. Four 
new companies, the Scituate Hunters, Providence Artil- 
lery, and Fusileers, and Kortli Providence Pangers, were 
chartered, and four brass four-pounders were purchased 
and loaned to the Providence Artillery. The office of 
Major-General was created, subject to annual election, and 
Simeon Potter, of Bristol, was chosen thereto.'^ The mili- 
tia law was revised in detail, providing '* in what manner 
the forces within this colony shall march to the assistance 
of any of our sister colonies when invaded or attacked." 
The Assembly adjourned after a busy session of six days. 10. 

^ This removal of the cannon and stores, when referred to at all by 
historians, has generally been represented as a movement of the populace, 
like that in New Hampshire, which resulted from it ; but it will be seen 
above that it was a deliberate act of the Assembly, and was officially de- 
fended, in terms not to be mistaken, by the governor. 

During Philip's war, in 1676, the office of Major of the colony was 
created, whose duties were those of a Major-General, but this latter military 
rank was not adopted till the present time. 



CHAP. The action of Eliode Island in dismantlino^ Fort 
^^^^ George was communicated to the people of Portsmonth, 

1774. 'New Hampshire, who at once took forcible possession of 
the castle in that harbor, carried aAvay a hundred barrels 
of po^^'der, and the next day, returning in greater force, 
seized all the cannon and other stores.^ On the same 
night a slight riot occurred at Newport, the mob doing 
damage to the houses of some of the officers of customs. 
The leaders were arrested and punished. The temporary 

16- committee of inspection at Xew^port was made permanent, 
17. and similar committees were appointed in Providence, 
and the other towns. These committees held monthly 
meetiugs, and their recommendations carried w^ith them 
the force of law. The manufacture of fire-arms began to 
be extensively carried on in Phode Island, and several of 
the chartered or independent companies, as they were 
called, were already furnished with home made muskets, 
while the casting of sixty heavy cannon, besides field 

1775. pieces, at the iron w^orks, superseded for a time the forg- 
Jan. 4. .^^g cables and anchors. Lord Dartmouth issued a cir- 
cular to the governors, to prevent, if possible, the aj^point- 
ment of delegates to attend the Congress. But the revo- 
lution was fairly begun, and the first regular battle, the 
first blood shed since the capture of the Gaspee, was soon 
to take place. 

Heretofore we have noticed to some extent, the pro- 
gress of events in England and in the other colonies, lead- 
ing to the final struggle ; but after this time events 
crowd so rapidly, that our limits, as well as the design 
of this work, require that we confine ourselves more ex- 
clusively to the affairs of this colony. Enlistments every- 
where proceeded rapidly, and orders for arms from 
Feb. Providence w^ere incessant. One hundred and forty guns 
16. were called for by North Kingstown. As the time ap- 

^ Letter of Gov. Wentworth to Gov. Gage, Portsmouth, December 14, 
1774, where the cause of the rising is stated as above. Belknap's New 
Hampshire, App. No. 27, vol. iii., p. 444. 



proaclied when, hy agreement of Congress, the use of tea chap- 
was to be suspended, the committee of inspection at Prov- 
idence issued an address to remind the people of it, and to 1775. 
urge conformity. Other towns followed the same course. ^'^'}^- 
The day came. Tea was everywhere proscribed. The March 
next afternoon some three hundred pounds of the forbid- ^^ 
den luxury were publicly burnt in market square, with 2. 
copies of ministerial documents and other obnoxious 
papers. At the same time the word " tea " was obliter- 
ated from the shop signs with brush and lampblack, by 
some ardent son of liberty. 

A general nmsterof the militia of the colony was held. April 
In the county of Providence, two thousand men, besides ^* 
a troop of horse, w^ere under arms, and in Kent county 
nearly fifteen hundred. This was exclusive of the char- 
tered companies. Returns from the other counties are not 
on record. The next day the independent companies ^^ 
were reviewed. Military enthusiasm w^as universal. The 
Provincial Congress of Massachusetts resolved to raise an g. 
army, and requested the other New^ England colonies to 
furnish their quotas for the common defence. The critical 
moment w^as at hand. Gage secretly sent a force at mid- 
night to capture some military stores at Concord. Reach- 
ing the village of Lexington towards sunrise, they came 19. 
upon a body of minute-men at drill. A light ensued, the 
provincials were dispersed, and the British advanced to 
Concord, where they destroyed the stores. But the alarm 
had spread, and minute-men poured in from every side, 
repulsed the enemy, and drove them back to Charlestown. 
The w^ar had begun in earnest. 

News of the battle of Lexington reached Providence 
the same night. Expresses w^ere sent oft' to the other 
towns and to Connecticut. The military assembled, and 20. 
the next day a thousand men w^ere on their march from 
Providence for the scene of strife, but were countermand- 
ed by expresses fr om Lexington. The Assembly convened 21 
immediately at Providence. Ammunition was distributed 22. 


CHAP, among all the towns. The Providence Artillery and 
^^^^ Fusileer companies were united under one charter, and 
1775. are now known as the Providence United Train of Artil- 
lery. A day of fasting and prayer was appointed. 
Nathaniel Greene and AYilliam Bradford were sent to 
Connecticut to consult with the Assembly of that colony 
for the common defence. An army of observation," to 
consist of fifteen hundred men, was voted to be raised at 
once. The governor, deputy-governor, and two assist- 
ants, protested against this levy as an act of war, and a 
violation of their oaths of allegiance. As the presence of 
the enemy rendered Newport an unsafe place for future 
deliberations, it was decided to hold the ensuing election 
at Providence. 

April On the same day that these important measures were 

22. adopted in Phode Island, the Massachusetts Congress 
voted to raise an army of thirteen thousand six hundred 
men, and to call on the other New England colonies to 
make up the force to thirty thousand. Tlie King's ships 
continued to annoy the commerce in the bay. Two ves- 
sels loaded with flour belonging to John Brown, who was 
on board of one of them coming from New73ort, were 

26. seized. Mr. Brown w^as sent in one of the prizes, with 
the greater part of the flour to Boston, but was soon re- 
leased by Gen. Gage, and allowed to return home. 

Feb. Parliament, in a joint address to the throne, had taken 
strong ground against the colonies. This was followed by 
a resolution of the House of Commons, passed at the in- 

•^^^ stigation of Lord North, conciliatory in its tone, but intend- 
3. ed simply to divide the colonies. Dartmouth enclosed 
this resolution in a long and carefully framed circular to 
the colonies, urging their acceptance of the conditions of 
peace therein proposed. These papers were sent to the 
^''^J ''t- Assembly by Gov. Wanton, whose presence was prevent- 
ed by illness, witli a letter deprecating their action at the 
recent session, and asking their calm consideration of the 
condition of the colony — in other words, opposing any 



further resistance. The next day tlie Assembly niet^ and CIIAP. 
proceeded as usual to the choice of officers. At tlie gen- J^^^^ 
eral election, wliich took place on the day of the battle of 1775. 
Lexington, the same general officers had been chosen, but ^^j^ 
several now declined to serve, and others were chosen in 
their stead. Among these was deputy-governor Sessions, 
in whose place Nicholas Cooke was elected. Four new 
assistants were also chosen in grand committee to fill 
vacancies. A connnittee of safety, composed of two from 
Providence and one from each other county, was ap- 
pointed, who were to furnish and pay the troops, and with 
the two highest military officers, were to direct the move- 
ments of the army of observation, if required to march 
beyond the colony. They were also to send to Congress 
an account of the expenses of raising this army.^ The 
offices of State were removed to Providence. 

Tlie boldest act of legislation recorded in any of the '^^y^' 
colonies, up to this time, was now performed by this As- 
sembly, in sus23ending Joseph Wanton from the office of 
governor, to which he had just been elected for the 
seventh time. He had protested against the act for raising 
the army of observation ; he had neglected to issue his 
proclamation for the fast-day appointed by the Assembly ; 
he had failed to be present to take the oath of office at 
this session ; and he now refused to sign the commission 
for the officers of the new army ; " by all which he hath 
manifested his intentions to defeat the good people of 
these colonies in their present glorious struggle to trans- 
mit inviolate to posterity those sacred rights they have 
received from their ancestors." The mamstrates were 
therefore forbidden to administer to him the official oath, 
unless in open Assembly, " according to the unvaried 

^ The committee of safety were William Richmond for Newport, John 
Smith and Daniel Tillinghast foi- Providence, John Xorthup for Kings il- 
liani Bradford for Bristol, and Jacob Greene for Kent. Captain Josei)h Stan- 
ton, jr., for King's county, was afterwards, June 28, added to this commit- 
tee. In " Men and Times of the Revolution, or Memoirs of Elkanah Watson," 
on pp. 20-23, is an account of Mr. Brown's capture, and of the expedition 
sent out from Plymouth to rescue him. 



CHAP, practice," and with tlie consent of the Assembly, aiul 
until the oath was thus taken he was disqualified from 

1775. acting as governor. Henry Ward, Secretary, was em- 
powered to sign all commissions, civil or military, and 
the deputy -governor was authorized to convene the As- 
sembly at his discretion. 

The army was formed into one brigade of three regi- 
ments, composed of eight companies each, with a train 
of artillery ; the whole under command of Brigadier- 
General Nathaniel Greene. Each regiment Avas to occupy 
the flanks and centre in rotation, to preserve their equality 
of rank, and the same rule was to be observed among the 
field ofiicers.^ Bills of credit' to the amount of twenty 

^ One regiment was raised in the counties of Newport and Bristol under 
Colonel Thomas Church, one in Providence under Colonel Daniel Hitchcock, 
and one in Kent and Kings under Colonel James M. Varnum. The officers 
were, of Colonel Church's regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel, William Turner Mil- 
ler; Mnjor, John Forrester; Captains-Lieutenant, William Ladd, Matthevf 
Allen, John Topliam ; Captains, Sion Martindale, Thomas Tew, Jonathan 
Brownell, Benjamin Seabury, and of the artillery, John Crane; Lieutenants, 
Nathaniel Church, James Smith, George Teniiant, Benjamin Diamon, Jona- 
than Simmons, Sylvanus Shaw, Gilbert Manchester, and of the artillery, 
Joseph Balch, Captain-Lieut.; Ensigns, Cornelius Briggs, James Brown, jr., 
Stephen Tripp, James Child, 2d, Christopher Bennet, Godfrey Brown, 
Israel Church. Of Colonel Hitchcock's regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel, 
Ezekiel Cornell ; Major, Israel Angel ; Captain-Lieutenants, Simeon Thayer, 
Stephen Kimball, John Field ; Captains, Andrew Waterman, John Angell, 
Christopher Olney, Jeremiah Olney, Nathaniel Blackmar; Lieutenants, John 
Spurr, Jonathan Smith, David Richmond, William Aldrich, Coggeshall Olney, 
Ephraim Bowen, jr., Levi Tower, Samuel Thornton; Ensigns, William Pot- 
ter, George Dorrance, jr., Samuel Black, David Dexter, jr., Stephen Olney, 
Cyprian Sterry, Nathaniel Field, Abraham Tourtellot. Of Colonel Varnum's 
regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel, James Babcock ; Major, Christopher Greene ; 
Captain-Lieutenants, Archibald Crary, John Iloxsie, Edmund Johnson ; 
Captains, Thomas Holden, Samuel Ward, jr., James Gardiner, Christopher 
Gardiner, jr., John Randall; Lieutenants, John S. Dexter, Jonathan Bates^ 
jr., John Reynolds, Joseph Barton, Elijah Lewis, Thomas Phillips, Nathaniel 
Hawkins, Oliver Clark ; Ensigns, Joseph HoUoway, John Holden, Joseph 
Arnold, Joshua CoUins, Samuel Bissell, William Potter (son of Ichabod), and 
-X- Stephen Wells. Peter Phillips was made commissary of the army. The 
field-officers each had command of a company, and their immediate subor. 


thousand pounds were issued, bearing two and-a-lialf per ciL 
cent, interest, and redeemable by taxation at the end of 
two and five years. Provisions were forbidden to be ex- 1775 
ported from the colony. Copies of these proceedings were 
sent to Connecticut and New York. The Assembly ad- 
journed on Sunday, after a laborious and most important 

On the day that Congress met at Philadelphia, Ticon- 
deroga and Crown Point, the two strong fortresses that 
had given so much trouble during the French war, were 
captured by surprise, one by Ethan Allen, the other by 
Seth Warner. Congress still aimed at conciliation. Kew 
England alone was resolved on independence, but the 
time was rapidly approaching w^lien but one opinion 
would prevail. An American army of some sixteen 
thousand men was encamped on Jamaica Plains, and 
daily receiving accessions. About one thousand men of 
the Phode Island " army of observation," with the United 
Train of Artillery, having their four field-pieces, and a 
siege battery of twelve eighteen and twenty -four-pounders, 
had marched to the scene of action before the first of 

Collisions between the royal forces and the ^Dcople juce 
were frequent ; such an afi'air occurred at Xewport at ^* 
this time, but without serious result! Tlie committee of 
inspection were active in enforcing the terms of the Ameri- 
can Association. In Providence they visited the stores 12 
to see that no goods were sold at enhanced prices, and a 
little later the sale of mutton was forbidden for a time. 
The people who would submit to such restrictions rather 
than pay a small duty on tea, showed a devotion to prin- 
ciple that was worthy of freedom. 

dinates were known as Captain-Lieutenants.* At the adjourned session, 
June 12, William Blodgett was appointed secretary to the army, and at the 
extra session, June 28, John Martin was made brigade surgeon, and Charles 
Bowler was appointed baker to the army of observation near Boston. 

* This title was abolished, March, 1776, and those who held it were ranked as captains. 



CHAP. The Assembly met by adjoiiniment at Greenwich. 

Gov. Wanton appeared, and demanded to have the oath 
1775. of office administered ; but failing to give satisfaction, they 
'^""^ refused his request, and continued the suspension act. 
13. The next day he addressed them a letter, explaining and 
defending his conduct in regard to the four points objected 
against him, but without effect. AYilliam Potter, one of 
the two assistants who had joined in the protest against 
the act for raising an army, presented a memorial, assign- 
ing his reasons for having done so, expressing regret for 
his conduct, and committing himself fully to the cause of 
liberty ; in consideration of which he was " reinstated in 
the favor of" the Assembly. Tlie articles of war for the 
government of the army, in fifty-three sections, with a 
patriotic preamble, were adopted,' and an act to prevent 
desertion was passed. The deputy-governor w^as requested 
to write to Capt. Wallace of the Kose frigate, to inquire 
why he annoyed the commerce of the colony, and to de- 
mand the restoration of a packet detained by him. This 
he did at once in a spirited letter, to which Wallace re- 
plied, without delay, asking who Cooke was, and if the 
colony w^as not in a state of rebellion ? The Assembly 
ordered both letters to be printed in the j^apers. A few 
hours afterwards, the detained packet, whose delivery 
had been demanded by Cooke, and which was armed and 
employed as a tender to the Rose, was chased on to Co- 
nanicut shore, and captured by an armed sloop in the col- 
ony's service, after a sharp firing on both sides. This 
was the beginning of a glorious national era in the naval 
enterprise of Ehode Island. To Capt. Abraham Wliipple, 
wlio commanded the war-sloop, is thus due the honor of 
discharging the first gun upon the ocean, at any part of 
his Majesty's navy in the American Revolution.^ Tw^o 

^ The rules for the government of the army, afterwards established by 
Congress, were adopted by the Assembly, Jan. 17, 1776, and these articles 
were repealed. 

^ The correspondence between Whipple and Captain Sir James Wallace, 



armed vessels were at once ordered to be e(|uipped for the CIIAP. 
defence of the colony ; the largest to carry ten four-ponnders, 
and fourteen swivel guns, with eighty men ; the smallest to 1775. 
carry thirty men. They were called the Washington and 
the Katy. Both were placed under the command of 
Abraham Whipple, the hero of the Gaspee, with the rank 
of Commodore.' Such was the commencement of the 
American navy. 

A further issue of ten thousand pounds in bills of 
credit was made. The postal system in Rhode Island 
was fully organized at this session, by the establishment 

of the Rose frigate, which took place at this time should be preserved. 
Wallace had learned who it was that led the attack on the Gaspee, and 
wrote as follows : " You, Abraham Whipple, on the 10th June, 1772, 
burned his Majesty's vessel, the Gaspee, and I will hang you at the yard-arm. 
James Wallace." To which note, more curt than courteous, Whipple 
replied with equal brevity, " To Sir James Wallace, Sir^ Always catch a 
man before you hang him. Abraham Whipple." 

The capture of the Margaretta, by the people of Machias, on the 11th 
May, was a private affair, precisely similar to that of the Gaspee, and, like 
that event, reflects great credit on the courage and spirit of the actors. 
The capture of the Gaspee was, in effect, the commencement of the 
Revolution, and Abraham Whipple led the attack. It was the first popu- 
lar rising directed against a British armed vessel. The affair of the loth 
June, 1775, was between two regular armed vessels, one in the colonial 
service of- Rhode Island, the other in that of the King, and was the first 
proper naval action in the Revolution. In either case, the honor that has 
always been claimed for Whipple, of firing the first gun of the Revolution 
upon the water, appears to be his due. The real " Lexington of the Seas" 
was the affair of June 10, 1772, and not that of May 11, 1775, as com- 
memorated by Mr. Cooper, (Naval History, vol. 1 p. 65) ; while, to continue 
the parallel, that of June 15, 1775, was the Bunker Hill, although with a more 
fortunate result, for it settled the question of the ability of Provincial 
cruisers to cope with those of the Crown. 

' The officers of this embryo squadron were as follows : — of the large ves- 
sel, " Abraham Whipple, Commander, with the rank and power of Commo- 
dore of both vessels," John Grimes, 1st Lieutenant, Benjamin Seabury, 2nd 
Lieutenant, William Bradford, (of Providence) Master, Ebenezer Flagg, 
Quartermaster ; — of the small vessel, Christopher Whipple, Commander, 
William Rhodes, Lieutenant. Ch. Whipple refused, and John Grimes was 
made commander. The Committee of Safety was empowered to fill va- 



^XX^' I'outes, officers, and rates of postage, and tiie appoint- 
' — . — ment of post-riders. William Goddard had completed 
his plan, and laid it before Congress, hut this colony an- 
ticipated, by nearly six weeks, the action of that body on 
the subject.^ Congress haying recommended the twentieth 
of July to be obseryed as a day of fasting and prayer 
throughout the colonies, the Assembly requested the 
deputy-goyernor to issue his proclamation accordingly. 
June This important session closed with the week, and upon an 
I'''- eyentful day. Tlie Eose, frigate. Swan, sloop-of-war, and 
a tender, came up the riyer in pursuit of prizes, and while 
absent from Newport, five yessels which they had pre- 
yiously taken were boarded and carried off by the peo23le 
of that town. 

Congress, while yet seeking a peaceful adjustment of 
grieyances, by again petitioning the King, and appealing 
to the British nation, as it had before done, resolyed to 
establish an army, to be enlisted as were those of the sev- 
eral colonies, till the close of the year. At the suggestion 
of Xew England, George Washington was chosen com- 

15. mander-in-chief. Four major-generals and an adjutant 
were also appointed,* and the following week eight briga- 

22. diers, among whom was JN^athaniel Greene, were chosen.' 

During this interval, a great battle was fought. The 
British army now numbered ten thousand men, and Gage 

^ On the 2Gth July, Congress adopted Goddard's plan of a Continental 
post office, and Franklin was a|)pointed Postmaster General. 

- These were Artenias Ward, of Massachusetts, then captain-general 
of the army before Boston, Charles Lee, a British soldier of fortune, lately 
{ settled in yirginia, Philip Schuyler, of New York, and Israel Putnam, of 

Connecticut, then serA'ing under Ward as a brigadier. Horatio Gates, a 
retired EngUsh officer, and Hke Lee, settled in Yirginia, was made adjutant- 
general, with the rank of brigadier. 

^ They Avere Pomeroy, Heath, and Thomas, of Massachusetts, Wooster 
and Spencer of Connecticut, and Greene of Rhode Island, all general officers 
with Colonial commissions, Sullivan of New Hampshire, a member of Con- 
gress, and Montgomery, of New York. Pomeroy declined. The colonels 
and subalterns in the army before Boston were also commissioned by Con« 
gress. Joseph Trumbull was made commissary-general. 



proclaimed martial law. A detaclimeiit of twelve lum- chap. 
dred Americans under Col. Prescott, in order to invest 
Boston more closely, was sent to occii})y Bunker's Hill, 1775. 
but by some mistake they advanced to Breed's Hill, still '^""^ 
nearer the town. All that night they worked at throwing 16. 
up a redoubt, and, undisturbed by a heavy cannonade 
which, in the morning, was opened U]>on them by the 17. 
astonished enemy, they continued tlieir labor until noon, 
extending a line of breastwork down the hill. Before 
three o'clock, about three thousand British troops under 
Howe, having set fire to Charlestown, commenced the 
attack. The result w^e know. The victory, like that of 
Pyrrlius, was more costly than defeat. The loss on either 
side w^as more than one-third of the number engaged, and 
among them was the gallant Warren. Gage was super- 
seded in his command. The ability of raw provincials, un- 
supported, and unrefreshed, after nearly twenty-four hours 
of incessant toil, to withstand the charge of veteran troops, 
was tested on that memorable day, to the satisfaction of 
America, and the dismay of her enemies. 

The battle of Bunker Hill, like that of Lexington, oc- 
casioned an extra session of the xVssembly, which was 28. 
called by w^arrant of deputy-governor Cooke. Commit- 
tees were ordered to visit every house in the colony, to 
take an account of arms and anmuinition to be trans- 
mitted to Congress. All the saltpetre and brimstone 
were ordered to be collected and forwarded to New York, 
where, as in Virginia and Pennsylvania, powder-mills were 
in operation. The garrison at Fort George was discharged, 
the few remaining guns were brought off, and the fort 
abandoned. A signal was establishtjd at Tower Hill, to 
give warning of the approach of a fleet, and a beacon was 
set up at Providence to spread the alarm. Every man in 
the colony capable of bearing arms Avas recpiired to equip 
himself for service. One-fourth part of the militia were 
enlisted as minute-men, to drill for half a day in every 
fortnight, in which body the independent companies were 
VOL. II. — 50 



CHAP, included. The Rliode Island forces, now incorporated 
witli the grand army before Boston, were placed under 
' — . — the direction of AA'ashington, and six additional companies 
^^28^ of sixty men each were ordered to be raised and sent for- 
ward, two to each regiment, to join the brigade, which 
with this accession numbered about seyenteen hundred 
men.' As if to cut off all further connection with Great 
Britain, the act allowing judicial appeals to be taken to 
England was repealed. Another issue of ten tliousand 
pounds in bills of credit was made, to meet these new 
23. war expenses.^ Five days before this. Congress had 
adopted the system of paper currency, by voting to issue 
two millions of dollars in Continental bills, to which 
another million was shortly added. 
July AVashington soon afterwards arrived at the camp, and 
^' established his head-quarters at Cambridge. The national 
fast day was observed with great solemnity throughout 
the colonies. It was a day of alarm to Newport. Wal- 
lace threatened to bombard the town, on account of the 
desertion of some of his men supposed to be detained there. 
Five boats were prepared, and the ships took position, but 
22. after two days of terror, Wallace sailed on a cruise. 

At Providence the entrance to the harbor was fortified 
between Field and Sasafras Points, and a battery of six 
eighteen-pounders was erected on Fox Point. The beacon 
on Prospect Hill, where the first one had been erected 
^^^g more than a century before, was fired in order to test its 
17. fitness as a signal. The flames w^ere observed over an 

^ The officers chosen for these six companies were as follows : Captains, 
Ebenezer Flagg, Thomas Gray, Levi Tower, Israel Gorton, Ethan Clarke, 
and Christopher Smith ; Lieutenants, Joseph Perry, Lemuel Bailey, Silas 
Talbot, James Williams, Thomas Cole, and Thomas Sweet; Ensigns, Noel 
Allen, Willian) South worth, Reuben Sprague, Joseph Harris, John Wood- 
mansie, and Oliver Teflfr. 

^ This made £40,000 issued in May and June, 1775, bearing interest. 
The whole of these bills were called in, and new ones for the same amount, 
but without interest, were emitted in January, 1776. 



area of country extending from Cambridge to Xew Lon- CHAP, 
don and Xorwicli, and from ^^ewport to Pomfret.' 

Another important session of tlie Assembly was now 1775. 
held. All the sheep and other live stock were ordered to 21^26 
be brought off from Block Island, and two hundred and 
fifty minute-men were drafted for the purpose, as it was a 
perilous undertaking. The islands in the bay, except 
Khode Island, were also cleared of most of their stock to 
prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy, and ar- 
rangements were made to sell it to the army.'^ A bounty 
of three shillings a pound was offered for the manufacture 
of salt|)etre in the colony, and the same price was affixed 
to its sale.^ Eight field-pieces were ordered to be cast at 
the two iron furnaces. It was forbidden, under heavy 
penalties, to pilot any of the King's ships within the 
waters of Rhode Island. In addition to the two war- 
sloops already in service, two " row galleys," or gun-boats, 
of thirty oars, each to carry sixty men, afterwards reduced 
to fifty, and one eighteen-pounder, besides swivel guns, 
wei-e ordered. These were named the Washington and 
the Spitfire. The Rhode Island delegates in Congress 
were instructed " to use their whole influence for builcling, 
at the Continental expense, a fleet of sufficient force for 
the protection of these colonies, and for employing them 
in such manner and places as will most effectually annoy 
our enemies, and contribute to the common defence of 
these colonies." Here was another point in which Rhode 
Island was the first to suggest, and the foremost to act, in 
behalf of a system of national defence ; and a little later 

^ A similar beacon was afterwards erected on Tonomy Hill, and fired on 
20th June, 1776. » 

By a report made at the October session, it appears that the stock 
removed from Block Island amounted to 1,908 sheep, valued at £534: 9s.; 
from Conanicut, 82 cattle, 444 sheep, at £850 9s. ; and from Prudence, 56 
cattle, and 384 sheep, at £530, which sums were paid to the owners from 
the treasury. 

^ This act was repealed in January, 1776, and saltpetre works were or- 
dered to be set up in every town in the colony, and one powder-mill to be 
established in the State. 



CHAP, it was appointed cliiefly to lier to carry out the idea of 
an American navy. The Continental currency was 
1775. adopted as lawful tender, and whoever should refuse either 
colonial or general bills of credit, was declared to be an 
enemy to his country. A large committee was appointed 
to act during the recess of the ssembly, with power to 
direct the naval force of the colony. 

22. The British ships threatened an attack on Providence, 
but advanced no further than Conimicut Point. The 
batteries and redoubts in the harbor were manned, and 
the military were under arms to repulse them Avhen the 
enemy withdrew, having captured a brig from the West 
Indies oif Warwick Neck, and pillaged the island and 
adjacent shores of much live stock. A permanent garri- 
son of seven men to each gun, with Esek Hopkins as 
commander, Samuel Warner, lieutenant, and Christopher 

29. Sheldon, gunner, was placed at the Fox Point battery. 
The first Pliode Island officer who fell in the war, Adju- 

28. tant Augustus Mumford, was killed at this time in the 

siege of Boston by a cannon shot from the enemy. 
Sept. When Congress re-assembled at Philadelphia after a 
recess of five weeks, the Georgia delegates took their 
seats, and "The Thirteen United Colonies " were com- 

6. plete. The College Commencement was held in a strictly 
]3rivate manner, in deference to the condition of the 
country. A town meeting at Providence was held, to 

7^ prevent the shipment of a quantity of flax-seed about to 
be sent to Europe. Although three days remained before 
the non-exportation agreement, entered into by the former 
Congress, was to take effect, it was thought best to adopt 
this course to allay jealousy in the other colonies. 
Oct. 3. The delegates laid before Congress their instructions in 
regard to a Continental navy. The plan was favorably 
received, although not matui-ed till some weeks later. 
There was instant occasion both at home and abroad, to 
employ the embryo squadron already afloat in Rhode 
Island. Congress desired to intercept two ships bound 



1o Canada with military stores, and resolved to request CIIAP. 
Gov. Cooke to despatch one or both of the colony's war- 
sloops on that service, and to use every precaution to keep 1775. 
secret the object of the expedition. But a more pressing 
necessity existed at home. The British fleet at Newport, 
being reinforced by four more vessels in search of supplies, 
Capt. Wallace made a threatening demand upon the 
islands of Rhode-island and Conanicut for live stock. A 
force of six hundred men, comprising five companies from 
Providence, with a pait of the Tiverton and Little Comp- 
ton militia, under Esek Hopkins as chief, and William 
West as second in command, commissioned by the Becess 4. 
Committee for special service, marched at once to New- 5. 
port to secure the stock, repel the invaders, and arrest 
George Bome for aiding the enemy, and send him, with 
any British officers or men whom they might find on 
shore, to Providence, " to be dealt with according to their 
demerits." ^ 

At the same time Gov. Cooke and Secretary Ward 
went to Cambridge to assist in a committee of Congress 
for establishing the army. The greatest alarm pervaded 
the doomed inhabitants of Newport. The town had be- 
come a camp, and every moment it was expected that the 
formidable fleet moored in front would reduce it to ashes. 
A violent storm prevailed for two days, during which the 5-6. 
exposure and suffering of the fleeing population was great. 
Many families removed with their property. For four 7-8. 
days the streets were almost blocked with carts and car- 
riages of every sort, seeking a place of safety. A shock 
was given to the prosperity of the' ancient capital, from 
which it has never recovered. But the place was too im- 
portant as a rendezvous to be wantonly destroyed, and 
Wallace attempted to soothe the people by promising 
immunity to their market boats in return for supplies of 
beer and fresh provisions. On Saturday he withdrew his T. 

^ Commission signed by Xichs. Cooke. D. Gov., Oct. 4, 1775, in Hopkins' 
MS. papers, vol. 2, in R. L Hist. Soc. 


CHAP, fleet, and in the evening, with fifteen sail, anchored in 

line in the harbor of Bristol. 
1775. Sending his barge to the wharf, he demanded that four 
of the magistrates should come oflf to the fleet, which was 
refused ; but an ofler to treat with any persons who might 
be sent on or near to the shore was made, with a guarantee 
for their personal safety. A heavy cannonade was then 
opened upon the town. The night was dark and rainy. 
A severe epidemic was then raging in Bristol. More tlian 
sixty persons were carried out upon their sick beds, and 
with the women and children, hurried ofl* in carriages to 
seek refuge from the general ruin. The bombardment 
continued above an hour, and more than a hundred and 
twenty cannon were discharged. Much damage was 
done to public and private buildings, but fortunately no 
one was killed by the shot, although some of the sick died 
from exposure. Wallace required a hundred sheep and 
fifty cattle, but reduced his demand to forty sheep, wdiicli 
the town wisely furnished, and the next afternoon the 

8. fieet departed, after plundering the neighboring farms. 

A still worse fate befell the town of Falmoutli, in 

18. Maine, now Portland, which was nearly destroyed by a 
bombardment. All the seaport towns of America were 
threatened with the same calamity. At Providence, fur- 
ther defences w^ere prepared. A floating battery was con- 
structed. Are ships were made, and a boom and chain, to 
be stretched across the cliannel, w^as furnished, when the 

31- Assembly convened, and the colony assumed the comple- 
tion of these works. Esek Hopkins and Joseph Brown 
were appointed to go through the colony to decide what 
places should be fortified, and in what manner. Batteries 
were erected at Pawtuxet and other places, and the troops 
on Conanicut and Block Islands were reinforced. The 
manufacture of saltpetre was undertaken by the colony, 
^^ov. On the second day of the session, the emancipation 

^' act was brought in. The abolition of the slave-trade had 
been accomplished more than a year before. It was now 



proposed to terminate the system of chattel slavery in chap, 
Rhode Island, by declaring free " all negroes, as well as 
other persons, hereafter born within this colony," and to 1775. 
provide for the liberation of existing slaves, at the will of 
the owners, by proper regulations. Suitable provisions 
were made in the bill to prevent such liberated slaves from 
becoming a charge upon the public. The act was referred 
to a future session, meanwhile to be printed and laid be- 
fore the town meetings for instruction to the deputies 

Another regiment of five hundred men in eight com- 
panies was enlisted for one year, " for the defence of the 
united colonies in general, and of this colony in particu- 
lar." ' Two new independent companies, the Kingston 
Reels, and tlie Captain General's Cavaliers, a troop of 
horse in Providence county, were chartered. Several 
memorials and declarations from persons whose language 
or conduct had excited suspicion, or who had incurred 
the displeasure of the Assembly, were presented ; among 
them w^as one from the late deputy-governor Sessions, in 
regard to his protest against the army act, all of which 
were favorably received. Some of these persons were 
under arrest for their connection with what was known as 
Brigadier Ruggles' Association, whose members were en- 
listed in the royal cause under Col. Gilbert, then on board 

^ The officers chosen for this regiment were : Colonel William Rich- 
mond; Lieutenant-Colonel Gideon Hoxsie ; Major Benjamin Tallman, (who 
resigned Jan. 25, to build a Continental frigate ;) Adjutant Benjamin Stelle ; 
Captains Caleb Gardiner, Billings Throop, Job Pearce, Thomas Wells, 
2d; Christopher Manchester, William Barton, James Wallace, Charles 
Dyer ; Lieutenants Benjamin Fry, Caleb Carr, Malachi Hammet, Augustus 
Stanton, Walter Palmer, Charles Lippit, John Rogers, Zorobabel Westcott ; 
Ensigns Jonathan Wallen, Peleg Heath, Benjamin Burlingame, Peleg Berry, 
Jonathan Duval, Squire Fisk, William Davis, Royal Smith. Other officers 
chosen at this time were, Nathan Miller, commissary to General Hopkins' 
troops, Benjamin Page, captain of 1st row-galley, Joshua Babcock, major- 
general of militia. 



CHAP, a Britisli tender in tlie bay.' Decrees of forfeiture were 
^^^^J^ passed upon the estates of many persons who upheld the 
1775. ministerial party, and were known as Tories.'' An act was 
passed denouncing death, and the forfeiture of property, 
against any who should furnish supplies to, or hold cor- 
respondence with the enemy. 

Great distress prevailed among the poor, especially on 
the exposed islands in the hay. At Newport, meetings 
had been held to memorialize Congress, and to petition 
the Assembly on the subject. Two hundred pounds were 
now appropriated for the removal of such as could leave 
the town, and the support of those who remained, and a 
tariff of prices for such removals w^as made. Newport 
was allowed to furnish supplies to the British ships, to 
ensure the safety as well as the support of the inhabitants.* 

* Timothy Rnggles was a brigadier-general in the French war, and a dele- 
gate from Massachusetts to the Congress of 17G5, at New York, where he 
was made president of that body, from whose proceedings he dissented, 
became a Tory, and was one of Gage's mandamus councillors in Massa- 
chusetts, in 1774. While acting in this latter capacity, near the close of 
the year, he drew up a paper, known as Brigadier Ruggles' Association, 
consisting of a preamble and six articles, which was sent for signature 
among the troops, binding them to sustain each other against any revolu- 
tionary movement, and disowning the authority of Congress, or of the 
Committees of Correspondence, which they agreed to resist by force. Under 
this Association, Colonel Thomas Gilbert, who had served with Ruggles in 
the French war, at the request of Gage, raised a body of 300 Loyalists, to 
preserve order in Bristol County, Massachusetts, In March, 1775, he wrote 
to Captain Wallace at Newport for aid to preserve his position. The letter 
was intercepted, and Gilbert took refuge on board of a British tender in the 
bay, where he had comniunication with some of the Tories in this colony, 
as above mentioned. 

Among these sequestered estates were those of the late Governor 
Hutchinson, of Massachusetts, Samuel Sewall, Gilbert Deblois, John and 
Jonathan Simpson — all of Boston, but holding property in Rhode Island ; — 
and of Dr. Thomas Moffat, Ralph Tnman, George Rome, Jahleel and Ben- 
jamin Brenton, late residents of Newport. The last-named gentleman was 
reinstated in the favor of the Assembly, and his estates were restored in 
January, he having proved that the charges against him were ill-founded, 
and that he was a friend to the liberties of his country. 

^ At the next session, in January, 1776, this permission was continued. 
The amount of supplies was 2,000 lbs. of beef per week, and a certain quan- 



Tlie people of Kantucket were permitted, under adequate chap. 
guarantees, to purcliase provisions in this colony. The 
statute of limitations was repealed to prevent ultimate 1775. 
loss to creditors, who, on account of the general distress, 
forebore to bring suits for the recovery of debts. All the 
public records were removed from IN^ewport to a place of 

The suspension act against Gov. Wanton had been 
continued at each session since its passage in May. Hav- 
ing failed to give satisfaction to the Assembly, and con- 
tinuing to manifest Tory sympathies, he was now formally 
deposed, and the office of governor was declared vacant. 
The deputy-governor, ISTicholas Cooke, was elected in his 
place, and William Bradford, of Bristol, was chosen 
deputy-governor. When we consider how firm Gov. 
Wanton had been in sustaining the rights of the colony 
for years against the assumptions of British naval officers, 
his great personal popularity, consequent thereupon, and 
that his first shrinking from the progressive action of the 
patriotic party was on the act for raising an army, which 
he truly enough construed to be an act of rebellion, we 
can better understand the feeling that pervaded the colo- 
ny, once the most loyal, and now the foremost to strike for 
independence. Yet in both positions the colonists were 
consistent, because acting in both upon the determination 
to maintain their chartered rio-hts, first ao^ainst the assaults 
of their neighbors, and now against the power that had 
resolved to destroy them. It was a bold act, a fitting 
supplement to the aftairs of the Gaspee and the levying 
an army, and an appropriate precedent to the final act, 
abjuring allegiance to the British crown, whi(?h was 
speedily to follow. 

The colonial debt accumulated rapidly at this period. 
Another emission of bills of credit to the amount of 
twenty thousand pounds was made, payable by taxation 

tity of beer, and £200 additional were appropriated for the removal of the 



CHAP, in five years, without interest. But these war expenses 
w^ere in the common cause of all the colonies, and it was 

1775. but right that Congress should assume them, as it did. 
The liability for the three millions of Continental bills, 
was distributed pro rata among the colonies. A commit- 
tee was appointed to receive the money due to Ehode 
Island, who, with the delegates in Congress, were empow- 
ered to adjust the account with the United Colonies, which 
was drawn up and presented- at this session, amounting 
. to nearly forty-five thousand pounds. One hundred and 
twenty thousand dollars of this account, was soon after- 
wards paid. At the close of this important session, the 
10. Assembly appointed the twenty-third instant as a day of 

public thanksgiving. 
9. The day before the adjournment, another naval action 

took place in ^N^arraganset Bay, between two privateer 
sloops from Providence, and a British schooner, three 
tenders, and a bomb-ketch that came out from Newport 
to attack them, but were repulsed after a conflict of some 

Congress, acting upon the suggestion of the Rhode 
Island delegates, appointed a marine committee, and re- 
solved to fit out four armed vessels, for which Esek Hop- 

5. kins was selected as commodore. Two expeditions 
against Canada were meanwhile in progress. One under 

3 Montgomery, after a siege of several weeks, captured St. 
Johns, on the Sorel Hiver, and thence marched to Mon- 

g treal, which at once surrendered. The other, under 
Arnold, consisting of eleven hundred men, of whom two 
hundred and fifty were Rhode Island troops,^ after a 

^ See Rhode Island Memorial to Congress, Jan., 1716, State Records, 
pp. 321-3. The troops in this expedition were divided in two battalions. 
The first led by Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Greene, comprised seven 
companies, three of which, commanded by Captains John Topham, of 
Church's regiment, Simeon Thayer, of Hitchcock's, and Samuel Ward, of Var- 
num's, with, perhaps, one more, were from Rhode Island. These officers 
were taken prisoners in the attack of Dec. 31. A journal kept by Cap. 
tain Thayer was first published in " The Spirit of '76, in Rhode Island, by 



severe march of six weeks through Maine, encamj)ed op- cilAP. 
posite Quebec. Many obstacles prevented an immediate J^^^ 
assault, and it was not till the close of the year, when 1775. 
Carleton had had time to complete his defences, that the 
unsuccessful attack was made, which resulted in the death 
of the gallant Montgomery, the wounding of Arnold, and 
the repulse of the besiegers. 

The proposal of Wallace to spare New^port on condi- Nov. 
tion of being furnished wdtli provisions, w^as referred by 
the town council to Gen. Hopkins, who, under the late 
act of Assembly, permitted it to be accepted ; the sup- 15. 
plies, in stated quantities, to be furnished by one person. 
To this restriction Wallace assented, and agreed not to 16. 
suffer his men to land " unless the rebels enter." Hop- 
kins was encamped in Middletown with a considerable 
force. The correspondence between the parties was 
printed by order of the Recess Committee. While this 
matter was pending, Charles Dudley, the collector of cus- 
toms, fled for refuge on board the Rose. The Recess 
Committee allowed Brigadier-General Hopkins to accept 
command of the continental fleet, and sent the Katy, 
under Whipple, to Philadelphia, with over a hundred 
men shipped for that service. They also took into their 28. 
charge the personal effects of Dudley and of George 
Rome, some of which w^ere stored in Providence, and 
others sold at auction. By their order several Tories were 
arrested, an artillery company w^as established as a part 29. 
of the new regiment, and officers were appointed for the 
row-galley Washington.' 

Benjamin Cowell, 352 pp., 8vo, Boston, 1850," which, with the author's 
remarks upon the expedition, App. A., pp. 283-94 of that important work, 
will be found deeply interesting. Major Henry Sherburne, of Rhode Island, 
was attached to Montgomery's expedition that went by way of the Lakes. 

^ Benjamin Page was appointed captain by the Assembly. The com- 
mittee filled the list with John Tillinghast and Jacob Westcott as lieuten- 
ants, and David Arnold, master. Page resigned in Jan., and Oliver Gard- 
ner was made captain ; D. Arnold, 1st lieutenant ; and Ebenezer Hill, master. 
Of the 2d galley, John Grimes was made captain in January, with the 



CHAP. Congress ordered that tlie Katy should be sent to 
cruise on the southern coast. A committee of one from 

1775. each colony, Stephen Hopkins being the one from Rhode 
Island, was appointed to organize and equip a navy. 
22 They conlirmed Esek Hopkins as commander of the fleet, 
and Abraham Whipple as captain of the frigate Co- 

A British force landed on Con anient, at the east ferry, 
10. and crossing the island, burned all the dwellings near the 
road, twelve in number, besides barns, plundering the in- 
habitants, and carrying off a quantity of live stock. The 
Recess Committee ordered barracks to be built on 

18. Wonumetonomy' Hill, and a laboratory for making artil- 
lery stores to be established in Providence.' The brutal 
attack on Jamestown greatly alarmed the colony. The 
town council of JN^ewport accepted the offer made by 
Providence county to receive and provide for four hun- 
dred of the poor of that town, and took measures for their 
removal. Thus the hospitality which, a hundred years 
before, had been extended by tlie people of Aquedneck to 
the scattered inhabitant's of Providence during Philip's 
war, was reciprocated in this hour of peril, by their de- 
scendants. Gov. Cooke applied to Gen. Washington for 
a regiment of the line to defend Rhode Island, and that 
Gen. Lee might be sent at once to command the forces. 

19. All the minute-men of the colony were sent to the defence 
of the island, and formed into one regiment under Col. 

command of both galleys ; Samuel Westcott, 1st lieutenant; Samuel Vial 
of Rehoboth, 2d lieutenant ; Francis Bradfield, master. Each was to carry 50 

^ This hill, just north of Newport, bore the name of the last Sachem of 
the Aquednecks, who was conquered by the Narragansets before the ar- 
rival of the English. It is often erroneously called Miantinomi hill, after 
the great Sachem of that name, and by a common corruption, Tammany 
hill, from the abbreviation, Tonomy hill, which was generally used. 

^ A year later, another laboratory was established in Providence. The 
first of these works was set up in the brick school-house in Meeting street, 
where it continued from December, 1776, to August, 1784. The other was 
in Whipple Hall from February, 1777, to February, 1781. 



William West, and Lieutenant-Colonel Cln'isto})lier Lip- CIIAP. 
pitt. West was appointed to succeed Hopkins in the J^^^ 
command of the island. Forty eighteen-pound cannon 1775. 
and twenty twelve-pounders were ordered to be cast. 

Gen. Lee proceeded to Providence, and was at once 21. 
made commander-in-chief of all the forces on the island. 
The Cadets and a body of riflemen accompanied him to 
the island. With a force of eight hundred men, he 
marched into ^^ewport, summoned the Tories, and admin- 25.) 
istered to them a remarkable oath, which was taken by 
all but Col. Wanton and two custom-house officers, who, 
on their refusal, were sent as prisoners to Providence, 
where Pome and other Tories were already confined. 
Lee's services conld not be spared from the camp, and 
after giving directions for fortifying the island, he came 27 
up to Providence. The minute-men were dismissed, and 
the committee voted " that one of the best beds, with the 28. 
furniture taken from Charles Dudley, be presented to 
Gen. Lee." Two days later he returned to Cambridge, 
and reported to Washington, who, in a letter to Hancock, g-^ 
President of Congress, approved of his method of " making 
friends of those that were bur enemies," and enclosed a 
€opy of the oath as " a specimen of his abilities in that 
way." ' 

^ It reads as follows : " I, John Bours, here, in the presence of Al- 
mighty God, as I hope for ease, honor, and comfort in this world, and hap- 
piness in the world to come, most earnestly, devoutly, and religiously swear 
neither directly nor indirectly to assist the wicked instruments of ministerial 
tyranny and villainy, commonly called the King's troops and navy, by furnish- 
ing them with provisions or refreshments of any kind-, unless authorized by the 
Continental Congress, or the Legislature as at present established in this par- 
ticular colony of Rhode Island. I do also swear by the same tremendous and 
Almighty God that I will neither directly nor indirectly convey any intelligence 
nor give any advice to the aforesaid enemies so described, and that I 
pledge myself, if I should, by any accident, get the knowledge of such 
treason, to inform immediately the Committee of Safety. And, as it is 
justly allowed, that when the sacred rights and liberties of a nation are in- 
vaded, neutrality is not less base and criminal than open and avowed hos. 
tility, I do further swear and pledge myself, as I hope for eternal salvation. 



CHAP. When tlie Recess Committee, under tlie act drafting 
one-quarter of the militia as minute-men, ordered the 
1775. levies to the defence of Rhode Island, a riot occurred at 
Dec. ^Yegt Greenwich to prevent the enlistment, and was re- 
26! peated by the same parties three days later. Some of the 
^P^' leaders were imprisoned at Providence, and the Assem- 
8-!^17. hly ordered the arrest of others. During the session, the 
British fleet of twelve sail came up to Prudence Island, 
12. and landed two hundred and fifty troops. A company of 
minute-men were driven oif, seven dwellings were burnt, 
and a hundred sheep taken. The next day reinforce- 
ments w^ere sent from Warren and Bristol, an action that 
lasted three hours ensued, w^hen the British were driven 
to their ships with a loss of fourteen killed and many 
wounded. The Americans had four wounded and one 

14. taken prisoner. The next night two houses were burnt on 
Patience Island, and after cutting wood on Hope Island, 

15. the ships returned to Newport. The Assembly stationed 
a company of artillery and minute-men at Warwick Keck, 
and fortified that point. They also despatched the troops 
at Prudence to the defence of Bristol. A night patrol 
was set, and artillery companies, with two field-pieces 
and fourteen men each, were formed in all the seaboard 
towns, seventeen in number, requiring a force of two hun- 
dred and thirty-eight men and thirty-four guns. The regi- 

■ ment of five hundred men raised at the last session, was 
increased to seven hundred and fifty, besides an artil- 
lery force of one hundred and five men to be attached to 
it,^ and another regiment of seven hundred and fifty men 

that I will, whenever called upon by the voice of the Continental Congress, 
or that of the Legislature of this particular colony, under their authority, 
take arms and subject myself to military discipline, in defence of the 
common rights and liberties of America. So help me God. 

"Sworn at Newport, Dec. 25, 1775. John Bourse." 

^ For the four new conipanies the officers were : Captains Josiah Gibbs, 
Jr., Cornelius Briggs, Benjamin Diamond, Samuel Phillips; Lieutenants 
John Holden, Lemuel Bailey, James Smith, Paul Herrington ; Ensigns 
Philip Arnold, Benjamin Church, Isaac Eastlick, Benjamin West; Quarter- 



was raised, the two to form one brijzade.' Xo military CIIAP. 
officer mider pay, except of the militia, could he a mem- ^"^^ 
her of the Assembly. A memorial was adopted, and for- 1776. 
warded to Congress by Gov. Cooke, setting forth the ex- 
posed condition of the colony, with a hundred and thirty 
miles of coast line, besides two navigable rivers, and a 
hostile fleet in its waters constantly plundering tlie islands 
and shores, and enumerating the eftorts already made in 
the common cause as well as for local defence, and asking 
continental aid in its behalf." Tlie thanks of the Assem- 
bly were voted to the towns of Eehoboth and Swanzey 
for the zeal with which they rallied to the aid of this col- 
ony upon every occasion of alarm. 

master John Handy. The artillery officers were: Elward Spalding, cap- 
tain ; William Bull, captain-lieutenant • Joshua Saver, 1st lieut, ; Ebenezer 
Sherman, 2d lieut. ; Timothy Brown, lieutenant Fire-worker. 

^ The officers of the new regiment were: Colonel Henry Babcock ; Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Christopher Lippitt ; Major Adam Comstock ; Captains Job 
Olney, Jonathan Brownell, James Tew, Asa Kimball, Andrew Waterman, 
Loring Peck, David Dexter, jr., William Potter, (son of John,) Benjamin 
Peirce, Augustus Stanton, John Carr, Thomas Gorton ; Lieutenants William 
Drowne, William Jones, Joseph Belcher, jr., Benjamin Hoppin, Xeheraiah 
Randall, Arthur Fenner, (son of Edward,) Peleg Slocum, Christopher Dyer, 
Simeon Martin, Joshua Bliven, Alexander Thomas, Thomas Arnold ; En- 
signs Jacob Williams, Gilbert Richmond, Bryant Millman, Anan Winsor, 
Wilson Rawson, Stephen Paine, David Sayles, William Potter, (son of Icha- 
bod,) William Belcher, Thomas Xoyes, Stephen Borden, Michael Spencer; 
Adjutant William Tyler ; Quartermaster, Benjamin Bourne. 

Officers for the brigade — Christopher Olney, major ; John Bartlet, sur- 
geon ; Joseph Rhodes, Ebenezer Richmond, and John Chace, surgeon's 
mates. The changes in this large number of officers were so frequent, from 
resignation and promotion, that to enumerate ihem would be tedious and 
useless — every session of Assembly made some changes. These will not be 
noticed in future, until the reorganization of the service, in the autumn of 
1776, when the Rhode Island forces were all embodied in the Continental 
army and marched abroad. The same remark applies to the naval service 
of the colony. The officers often changed from one service to the other. 

- A copy of this memorial was given to General Washington, who con- 
firmed its statements, and warmly urged its object in a letter to John Han- 
cock, president of Congre^s, New York, April 3<'», 1776. John Hancock's 
manuscript letter-books, Xo. 5, p. 17, in Massachusetts Historical Society. 
For this course, Washington received the thanks of the As.serably in June. 



CHAP. A descent of the British fleet upon Point Judith, 
3^ whence a number of sheej) and cattle were taken, caused 
1776. much excitement, owing to the alleged connivance of some 
Feb. prominent persons suspected of being Tories. These were 
arrested and examined by the committee of safety, who 
were constantly employed in investigations of this sort. 
10. South Kingston applied to Gov. Cooke for an additional 
force to guard tlie coast of that township. The fleet paid 
15. another visit to Prudence Island, and burnt a few more 
houses and a windmill. The inhabitants had already 
evacuated the island, taking off" their grain and live stock. 
The first American squadron that ever got to sea, 
17. sailed at this time from Delaware Bay under Commodore 
Hopkins. We shall soon have occasion to notice its pro- 

23. The people of [N'ewport in town meeting adopted a 
memorial to the Assembly, complaining of the severity 
with which Gen. West, commanding the troops on the isl- 
and, enforced the act against communicating with the 
British fleet, and of his seizing suspected persons and de- 
taining them for examination. They prayed the Assem- 
bly to forbid the troops from entering the town, and to 
leave the control of the supplies to the council, without 
the supervision of the General. West denounced tliis 
meeting as a Tory movement ; but the position of New- 
port at the time was most critical, for it was placed, as it 
were, between two fires, and liable to destruction at any 
moment from either. A dispute in regard to rank arose 
between Colonels Babcock and Pichmond, of West's bri- 
gade, which ultimately resulted in the resignation of the 
former, although his claim to precedence was allowed, and 
he was for awhile placed in command of the brigade by 
the Assembly. Gen. West complained to that body that 

^ It comprised 8 vessels — the ships Alfred, of 24 guns, Dudley Salton- 
stall, captain, and the Columbus, 20, Abraham Whipple ; the brigs Andrew 
Doria, 14, N. Biddle ; Cabot, 14, John B. Hopkins, (son of Com. H. ;) the 
sloops Providence, 12 ; Hornet, 10; Wasp, 8 ; Fly, tender. 



the Tories, arrested l)y him and sent to Providence, were CHAP. 

.... XX 
aUowed to return, thus impairing his influence as a com- .^.^ 

mander, and tendered his resignation, which was accept- 1776. 

ed. Altliough these men, among wliom was CoL Wanton, 

were discharged hj the Assembly, a vote was passed 

justifying West for their arrest. 

Hard money being required for carrying on the war 
in Canada, Congress applied to all the colonies to furnish 
as mucli as possible, and a large committee was now ap- 
pointed to collect what they could in Rhode Island.' The 
minute-men were all dismissed, and their places supplied 
by enlisted troops, of whom seventy were sent to James- 27. 
town to defend that exposed position. A census of men 
and arms was taken this month in Providence. The 
population was 4,355, of whom just one-sixth were effec- 
tive men, with about Ave hundred stand of arms. 

The fleet under Com. Hopkins was ordered to ren- Mar. 
dezvous at Abaco for fifteen days, after which he made a 
descent on New Providence, captured the two forts, with 3. 
a large amount of military stores and over a hundred 
cannon, which were put on board the ships, and taking the 
governor, lieutenant-governor, and one of the council as 
prisoners, sailed for home. ^^^^ 

The evacuation of Boston, which was immediately 
occupied by Washington, relieved Massachusetts from the 
presence of the enemy, who sailed for Halifax. It was 
supposed that their destination was New York, and that 
they would touch at Newport. The Assembly was at 
once convened, and a memorial was sent to Gen. Wash- ig. 
ington, asking that the army, on its' march to New York, 
might pass through this colony. An application for forty 
heavy cannon was also made. A volunteer patrol com- 

' Hancock wrote to Gov. Cooke on this subject, April 80. The collec- 
tions proceeded slowly, for the colony was almost drained of specie before 
this requisition. $1,173, all that could be got, were sent from Rhode Island, 
as appears from a letter from Gov. Schuyler to Gov. Cooke. Fort Georo-e, 
May 23, 1776. 

VOL. II. — 60 



CHAP, panj, which had existed for some time at Is ewport, was 
^JJ^ organized, and phiced mider the brigadier of the ishmd- 
1776. forces. Two thousand muskets were ordered for the cok>- 
Mar. Fortifications were raised at Howhmd's and Bristol 

ferries. Privateering was legalized in conformity with 
an act of Congress, and a prize court established, of which 
John Foster was appointed judge. Many persons having 
removed from the more exposed towns, the Assembly per- 
mitted them to retain their former legal residence, and to 
vote in those towns by returning for that purpose upon 
election days. Another emission of twenty thousand 
pounds in bills of credit was made. 
25. The death of Hon. Sanmel AVard, delegate in Con- 
gress, was a severe and unexpected blow. Flis eminent 
services to the country, as well as to the colony, were ap- 
preciated by his associates, and a public funeral was or- 
dered by Congress, to which the other public bodies in 
Philadelphia were invited.' 
31^ An alarm, which for the time proved false, that the 
April British fleet were entering the bay, caused Gov. Cooke to 
^' write an urgent letter for aid to Gen Washington, who at 
once hastened the march of Generals Greene and Sullivan 
towards Providence. Both brigades, the former of Ave 
and the latter of six regiments, reached Providence in a 
5. day or two, followed by Washington himself, with Gates 

^ His death took place on the night of the 25th March, 1776, of small- 
pox. The proceedings upon it are thus recorded in the journals of Con- 
gress : — 

"In Congress, Tuesday, March 26, 1776. 

"The Congress being informed that Mr. Ward, one of the delegates of 
Rhode Island, died yesterday ; Resolved — that this Congress will in a body 
attend the funeral of Mr. Ward, to-morrow, with a crape round the arm, and 
will continue in mourning for the space of one month. 

"Resolved — that Mr. Hopkins, Mr. S. Adams, and Mr. Wolcott be a com- 
mittee to superintend the funeral, and that they be directed to apply to the 
Rev. Mr. Stillman, and request him to preach a funeral sermon on the oc- 
casion ; that the said committee be directed to invite the Assembly and 
Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania, and the other public bodies in Phila- 
delphia, to attend the funeral." 



and other general officers. Spencer's brigade, of five CIIAP. 
regiments, arrived the next day, and in the evening a 
grand entertainment was given to the commander-in-chief, 1776. 
who, on the day following, left for New York, whitlier Apnl. 
the army, there being no cause of detention in Ehode 
Island, had preceded him. 

This was a stirring week both in the military and 
naval annals of the colony. As Washington left Provi- 
dence, Com. Hopkins, with his victorious fleet, arrived 
at New London, having added fresh laurels to his conquest 
of Nassau, by a series of engagements ofl[' the coast witliin 
the past three days. On Thursday he captured the 4 
schooner Hawke, of six guns, Capt. Wallace, son of Com. 
Wallace, and on Friday the bomb brig Bolton, of eight 5^ 
guns. On Saturday, before daylight, he engaged the 
frigate Glasgow, of twenty -four guns, and her tender, and 
after an action of three hours, compelled her to run for 
Newport. His own fleet was too much scattered when 
the Glasgow was discovered, to come properly into action, 
and too heavily laden to pursue the chase. The tender 
was taken, and all arrived safely the next day at New 7. 
London.^ When the Glasgow reached Newport, the 
British squadron went out in pursuit of Hopkins. Tliat 6. 
night a battery was planted on Brenton's Point, which 
compelled the frigate to retreat farther up the bay, and 
the next day to put to sea. Soon afterAvard the Scarboro', 7 
of twenty guns, and another vessel of sixteen guns, with 
two prizes, anchored in Newport harbor, and the same 
night were attacked by the two row galleys from Provi- 
dence, the prizes retaken, and the ships of war comx^elled 
by the galleys and a battery at Newport to seek refuge 
under Conanicut Island, where another battery was 
shortly placed, which obliged tlie two ships to put to sea, 14. 
leaving the bay, for tlie first time in many months, en- 
tirely free from British cruisers. 

^ A detailed account of these engagements, which our limits do not per- 
mit, will be found in Cooper's Xaval History, i. 77-SO. 



CHAP. Congress sent on the reqnisite papers for letters of 
J^^^ marque, and appointed Daniel Tillingliast prize agent for 
1776. this colony. The cannon taken at Nassau were dis- 
^P^il tribnted, by order of Congress, to various places. Thir- 
teen of them were mounted upon a new fort at the Point 
in Newport. Old Fort George was reconstructed, and 
another work erected on Brenton's Point. These defend- 
ed the harbor. 

But difficulties were rife in the military service. Col. 
Babcock was placed under arrest for some misconduct 
towards his officers. He was dismissed in May, on the 
ground of insanity, and Lieut.-Col. Lippitt was promoted 
to the place. Hopkins applied to Washington for the loan 
of two hundred men froni the army, to supply the losses 
occasioned by sickness, and with these he brought the fleet 
from New London to Providence, where he landed over 
one hundred sick, chiefly with small-pox. Capt. Whipple 
30 of the Columbus, having been blamed for not closing with 
the Glasgow in the late action, demanded a court-martial. 
May 6. which was held on board the Alfred, at Providence, and 
resulted in his acquittal. It was shown that the want of 
wind, and his position to leeward, prevented a nearer ap- 
proach. Capt. Hazard of the Providence w^as cashiered 
for disobedience of orders. Other troubles, of a like na- 
ture, were in prospect, as will presently appear. 
1. The last colonial Assembly of Phode Island met at 

Providence. The same general officers were chosen, the 
people having confirmed the election of Deputy-Governor 
Bradford, made by the Assembly in November. The 
Smithfield and Cumberland Bangers were incorporated. 
It was resolved to erect a marble monument over the 
grave of the late Samuel Ward, " in testimony of the 
respect due to his memory, and in grateful remembrance 
of his public services." William Ellery was appointed in 
his place as a delegate to Congress, with Stephen Hop- 
kins, for one year. 
4. The last important act in the colonial history of 



TUiodc Island, is now to be recorded. It was the Act chap. 
abjuring allegiance to the British crown; in effect, a 
Declaration of Independence. It closes the colonial 1776. 
period of our history, for it established Ithode Island as 
an independent State two months before the general 
Declaration of the United Colonies. 

However reluctant other portions of the continent may 
have been to entertain the idea of a final separation from 
the Mother Country, in this colony the desire for absolute 
independence was early conceived and steadily followed. 
Of the two parties that elsewhere existed in America, the 
Loyalists or Tories, and the Wliigs, the former sustained 
the ministry, the latter, while it opposed the oppressive 
measures of the King, hoped and labored for conciliation. 
A few leading minds in many of the colonies, no doubt 
foresaw the inevitable result, and secretly urged it for- 
ward. In Rhode Island tlie Loyalists, considerable both 
in number and influence, occupied a position not very 
different from that of the less active AVhigs in other colo- 
nies. Wanton, while governor of the colony, was as firm 
in the spirit of resistance as any Whig, up to the overt 
act of treason in levying war, and he fairly represents the 
Tory faction here, with a few exceptional cases from 
among the Revenue and other Crown officers. The 
Whigs, on the other hand, aimed from the beginning at 
independence. Every act since the close of the Ward and 
Hopkins controversy in 1768, seems directed to that one 
object. The democratic charter of Rhode Island enabled 
the legislature to represent fairly and fully the will of the 
people, and their will was, at all hazards, to preserve that 
charter, albeit at the expense of their former loyalty. The 
stamp act produced the fusion of rival factions three years 
later. The destruction of the Gaspee, the commencement 
of the Revolution, was a result of that fusion ; and its 
logical and premeditated conclusion was 

" An act, repealing an act entitled ' An act for the more effectnally 
securing to His Majesty the allegiance of his subjects, in this his colo- 



JHAP. ny and dominion of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,' and 
XX. altering the forms of commissions, of all writs and processes in the 
"■^■jr;^^ Courts, and of the oaths prescribed by law. 

May 4. " Whereas, in all States, existing by compact, protection and alle- 
giance are recii)rocal, the latter being only due in consequence of the 
former; and whereas, George the Third, King of Great Britain, for- 
getting his dignity, regardless of the comi)act most solemnly entered 
into, ratified and confirmed to the inhabitants of this colony, by his 
illustrious ancestors, and, till of late, fully recognized by him, — and 
entirely departing from the duties and character of a good King, in- 
stead of protecting, is endeavoring to destroy the good people of this 
Colony, and of all the United Colonies, by sending fleets and armies 
to America, to confiscate our property, and spread fire, sw^ord, and 
desolation throughout our country, in order to compel us to submit 
to the most debasing and detestable tyranny; whereby we are obliged 
by necessity, and it becomes our highest duty, to use every means 
with which God and nature have furnished us, in support of our in- 
valuable rights and privileges, to oppose that power which is exerted 
only for our destruction. 

" Be it therefore enacted by this General Assembly, and by the 
authority thereof it is enacted, that an act entitled ' An act for the 
more effectually securing to liis Majesty the allegiance of his subjects, 
in this his colony and dominion of Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations,' be, and the same is hereby repealed. 

" And be it further enacted by this General Assembly, and by the 
authority thereof it is enacted. That in all commissions for offices, 
civil and military, and in all writs and processes in law, whether 
original, judicial, or executory, civil or criminal, wherever the name 
and authority of tlie said King is made use of, the same shall be 
omitted, and in the room thereof, the name and authority of the Gov- 
ernor and Company of this colony shall be substituted, in the follow- 
ing words, to wit: 'The Governor and Company of the English 
Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.' That all such 
commissions, writs, and processes, shall be otherwise of the same 
form anJ tenure as they heretofore were ; that the Courts of Law be 
no longer entitled nor considered as the King's Courts ; and that no 
instrument in writing, of any nature or kind, whether public or pri- 
vate, shall, in the date thereof, mention the year of the said King's 
reign; Provided, nevertheless, that nothing in this act contained, 
shall render void or vitiate any commission, writ, process, or instru- 
ment heretofore made or executed, on account of the name and au- 
thority of the said King being therein inserted." 


37 J 

Tlien follow the forms of oaths prescribed under the new 

order of things.' 

' The original draft of the above Act or Declaration is said to be in the 
handwriting of Dr. Jonathan Arnold, a deputy from Providence, and after- 
wards a member of the Continental Congress. History should preserve the 
names of the actors in this closing scene of our Colonial drama. May, 177G. 

Nicholas Cooke, governor. William Bradford, deputy-governor. 

Henry Ward, secretary. Henry Marchant, attorney-general. 

Joseph Clarke, general Treasurer. 


John Collins, Simeon Potter, Ambrose -Page, John Sayles, John Jepson^ 
James Arnold, Jonathan Randall, Peter Phillips, William Potter, Thomas 


John Wanton, S. of G., 
Samuel Fowler, 
George Sears, 
Gideon Wanton, 
Thomas Freebody, 
Joseph Belcher. 

Jonathan Arnold, 
John Brown, 
John Smith, 
Amos Atwell. 

Metcalf Bowler, 
John Coddington, 
John Thurston. 

William Greene, 
Jacob Greene, 
Charles Holden, jr., 
John Waterman. 

Joshua Babcock, 
Joseph Noyes. 

North Kingstown. 
John Northup, 
Sylvester Gardner. 

South Kingstown. 
Samuel Seager, 
Samuel Babcock. 

East Greenwich. 
Job Comstock. 
Thomas Shippee. 

Samuel Carr, 
Benjamin Underwood. 

Daniel Mowrv, jr., 
Andrew Waterman. 

William West, 
Christopher Potter. 

Richard Steere, 
Chad Brown. 

Joseph Stanton, jr., 
Jonathan Haszard. 

West Greenwich. 
Thomas Tillinghast, 
Judiah Ay les worth. 

Ephraim Westcott, 
Jeremiah Fenner. 

George Peirce. 

Joshua Barker, 
Nicholas Easton. 

Shearjashub Bourne, 
Nathaniel Pearce. 

Gideon Almy, 
John Cooke.' 

Little Compton. 
Thomas Brownell, 
Daniel Wilbur. 

Cromwell Child, 
Sylvester Child. 

Cumberland > 
John Dexter, 
Elisha Waterman. 

Samuel Teft, 
Richard Bailey. 

Andrew Harris, 
Zuriel Waterman, 

John Fenner, 
Peleg Williams, 

North Providence, 
Thomas Olney, 
Jonathan Jenckes, jr. 

Edward Bosworth, 
Thomas Allen. 

John Larkin, 
Thomas Wells. ^ 

Metcalf Bowler, speaker, and Josias Lyndon, clerk of the Lower House. 



CHAP. The records of the Assembly had always closed with 
^35^ the loyal motto, " God save the King." At the close of 
1776. this session, the words were changed, and " God save 

the United Colonies," appears, for the first time, on the 

archives of the ancient Plantations.^ 

Khode Island had become in form, as well as in spirit, 

an independent State. 

^ But few references to authorities have been made in this chapter, and 
a few preceding it, nor will many be given in the remainder of the work. 
They are very numerous, and for the most part are in manuscripts not very 
accessible to the general reader. They are principally the Hopkins and 
Foster papers in the Rhode Island Historical Society ; the Hutchinson, 
Trumbull and Hancock papers and letter books in the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society, the journals of the Recess Committee, extracts from the 
journals of Congress, the records of the Assembly, and many volumes of 
original letters, filed and bound in the Secretary's office of this State, be- 
sides the papers of some private families, kindly loaned to the writer — all in 
manuscript. The Providence Gazette, of which a complete set, from its 
commencement in 1762, is preserved in the Rhode Island Historical Society, 
and the collections of the several State historical societies, with many other 
histories, local, State, and general, are the printed authorities relied upon in 
this work. 




At the next issue of the Providence Gazette, after CHAP, 
the passage of the act of independence, the arms of Great 
Britain, which had always appeared at the head of the 1V76. 
paper, were dropped. John Paul Jones, late tirst lieu- ^^^^ 
tenant of tlie Alfred, was sent by Com. Hopkins, in charge 10. 
of the sloop Providence, to carry the borrowed soldiers to 
ISTew York, and there to enlist a crew, after which he re- 
turned to the station. One of the armed schooners taken 
in the late cruise, was purchased by Congress for the 
Continental service, and named the Hopkins.^ On the 
urgent recommendation of Gen. Washington, Congress 
took into continental pay the two regiments lately raised 11. 
in Phode Island. Of the thirteen frigates ordered by 
Congress in December, two were built in this colony, the 
Warren of thirty-two and the Providence of twenty-eight 
guns. Benjamin Tallman superintended the construction 
of one, if not both of them. They were launched at Provi- 15&I8 
dence within the same week. 

The surrender of the Cedars, an advanced fort near 19. 
Montreal, and the capture of a detachment, comprising a 20. 

* Letter of Hancock to Com. H. — Hopkins Papers, vol. ii. ; R. I. Hist. 



CHAP, part of the Eliode Island regiment, sent by Gen. Arnold 
J^^^ from Montreal, under Major Henry Sherburne, to rein- 
1TT6. force that garrison, were fatal to the cause in Canada. 
June rj^i^g army were soon after obliged to retreat, and the con- 
quest of Canada was abandoned. The question of inde- 
7. pendence was moved in Congress by Lee of Virginia, and 
gave rise to protracted debate, in which there appeared at 
first but seven States in favor of, to six against the measure. 
But the war was prosecuted with unabated vigor. Large 
bodies of troops were raised, and the ships were manned. 
^* John B. Hopkins and Samuel Tompkins were appointed 
to command the two frigates built at Providence, the for- 
mer to the AYarren, the latter to the Providence, in which 
he was superseded by Whipple a few months later. The 
10. Assembly resumed its sessions at NeAvport, which of late 
had been held elsewhere, owing to the presence of tlie 
enemy. It was resolved to establish a hospital in each 
county for inoculation for the small-pox.' A few mem- 
bers protested against the act. The delegates were in- 
structed to propose to Congress a general system of inocu- 
lation in the army and navy, where the small-pox,, 
especially in Canada, was raging to a fearful extent. By 
the advice of Congress a census of the colony was ordered 
to be taken. A test oath, to be administered to all sus- 
pected persons, was adopted. Quakers were exempted from 
the operation of this act, out of respect to their views on 
the subject of oaths. Five persons in Newport, who re- 
fused to subscribe the test, were removed to Gloucester, 
there to remain at large upon pariDle. James Honeyman 
voluntarily resigned liis royal commission as advocate- 
general of the Court of Yice-Admiralty for this colony. 
The revival of trade was promoted by an act permitting 
commerce with all parts of the world, excej)t Great Britain 
l'^- or her de23endencies, and appointing two Intendants, one 

^ This was done at Providence, in August, and a list of over 400 persons 
inoculated at the Small-pox Hospital in Providence, in September and Oc- 
tober, is preserved in the Foster Papers, vol. x. 


at Newport, and one at Providence, to supervise the CITAP. 
same.' The Assembly then adjourned till August. 

Three days afterward Admiral Lord Howe arrived off 1770. 
the coast of Massachusetts, whence he sent a circular to "^^o^* 
all the colonial governors announcing that he and his 
brother, the General, were empowered to grant pardon to 
all who would submit and aid in restoring peace ; but his 
" Declaration " had no effect. A few days later a British 
fleet under Sir Peter Parker was repulsed in the attack on 
Fort Moultrie, before Charleston. Two days afterwards, 
Gen. Howe wdtli about eight thousand troops, including 
the late Boston garrison, arrived at Sandy Hook, and dis- 30. 
embarked at Staten Island, where he w^as soon joined by '^^^^ 
the Admiral. 

The instructions to Com. Hopkins had been referred May 8. 
to a special committee of seven members. The Marine '^^^^ 
Committee reported that complaints were made against 
him, and Capts. Saltonstall and Whipple, for breach of 
orders. They were accordingly summoned to Philadel- 14. 
phia by Hancock, and the Marine Committee were or- ^"^^ ^• 
dered to enquire into the subject. They acquitted the 
two captains, and sent them back to their commands. 
The next day the special committee on Hopkins was dis- 
charged, and his instructions, with the complaints against 12. 
him, w^ere referred to the Marine Committee. Tlie com- 
modore waited w^on Congress, and obtained a copy of the -^^^g- 
charges against him. These originated w^itli the Anti- 
Kew England feeling, pervading members from other 
States, and their chief j^oint was that he had made the 
successful descent upon Nassau instead of cruising .along 
the southern seaboard, as it was claimed that his instruc- 
tions required. The following week he was heard in re- 12. 
ply. After a debate in which he was ably defended by 
John Adams, Congress disapproved his conduct in not 15. 
proceeding direct to the Carolinas, and the next day 16. 

^ At the August Session, Henry Ward was chosen Intendant of Trade 
for Providence, and Solomon Southwick for Newport. 



CHAP, passed a resolution of censure. It was attempted to 
3^ cashier liim on the spot, which was prevented for a time 
1776. by the exertions of Adams, and Hopkins was directed to 
"^2^' resume tlie command of the fleet, and cruise against the 
British fishery at Newfoundland ; but the eflorts of his 
enemies ultimately prevailed, and in the following March 
he was suspended from the service, and on the second of 
January, 1778, was dismissed. No commander-in-chief 
has since been appointed for the navy.^ 
'^gg® Another debate ensued on the question of independ- 
ence, when a draft of the Declaration was I'eported to 
'^^y Congress. Nine colonies voted for it in Committee of the 
4] Wliole, and on the final action, the measure w^as adopted 
by all but New York, whose delegates, being without in- 
structions, declined to vote. The Provincial Congress of 
9. that State, however, gave it their sanction a few days 
later, and the act thus became unanimous. Attention 
was at once given to the northern army, and the president* 
5, was ordered to write to Gov. Cooke to send fifty ship-car- 
penters from Rhode Island to Gen. Schuyler, to build 
vessels for the defence of the lakes. 

The declaration of independence at once altered the 
position of the loyalists, and compelled the wavering to 
decide which party they would espouse. In Newport 
Col. Lippitt took measures to ascertain the feelings of 
those whose position was doubtful, by tendering the test 
oath before Judge Bowler, to about eighty persons, all but 
three of whom refused it and were disarmed. The As- 
IS- sembly, convened at Newport to take formal action upon 
the resolution of the fourth in Congress, voted that they 
do approve the said resolution, and do most solemnly 
engage that we will support tlie said General Congress 
with our lives and fortunes." Measures were taken to 
proclaim it with military honors, and the national salute 
20. of thirteen guns, at Newport. The event was celebrated 

^ Journals of Congress. Cooper's Naval History, I. — 80. Autobiography 
of John Adams. 



witli great rejoicings, and tlie burning of tlie King's arms CHAP, 
at Providence. The legal title of tlie gov^ernnient was 
altered by the Assembly to "The State of Ehode Island 1776. 
and Providence Plantations." The two row-galleys were ^^^^^ 
sent to New York to be placed under the orders of Gen. 
Washington. A fine of a liundred pounds w^as decreed 
against any one convicted of acknowledging, in any man- 
ner, even in preaching or praying, the supremacy of the 
King of Great Britain, and whoever should refuse to sign 
the test act was disfranchised, and rendered incapable of 
suing in the courts, or of petitioning the Assembly for 
reUef from judgment.' A fine of fifty pounds was estab- 
lished against any wdio should attempt to depreciate the 
Continental or State "bills of credit, and a further issue of 
ten thousand pounds in these bills, having six years to 
run, was made. Eleven of the prominent Tories of New- 
port, were sent into difierent towns to remain on parole. 
The records of tliis Assembly close with the words " God 

save the United States." The Au(>:ust session was the 

, 19. 

last that was held at Newport for four years. Officers 
were appointed for the brigade taken into continental 
pay. The field-officers were recommended to Congress, 
the subalterns were elected in grand committee.'"^ 

^ At the September session, all officers, civil or military, and all attor- 
neys-at-law, were required to subscribe the test-oath, except Quakers ; and 
members of the Assembly from towns where all the electors had not taken 
the oath were forbidden to take their seats, and new elections were ordered 
to be held in those towns. 

The officers recommended to Congress were — of the 1st regiment, 
Colonel William Richmond ; Lieutenant-colonel Caleb Gardiner ; Major 
Benjamin Tallman ; of the 2d regiment, Colonel Christopher Lippitt ; Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Adam Comstock ; Major James Tew. These were confirmed 
by Congress, September 7. 

The officers chosen for Richmond's regiment were as follows : — 
Captains — Thomas Wells, 3d, Christopher Manchester, James Wallace, ' 
Josiah Gibbs, Jr., Benjamin Diamond, Samuel Phillips, Jr., Caleb Carr, 
Abimeleck Riggs, Malachi Hammett, Royal Smith, Lemuel Bailey, and 
Jonathan Wallen. 

Lieutenants— Peleg Berry, Walter Palmer, Jonathan Duvai, Jr., Philip 



CHAP. A deed of cliivalroiis daring, the first of many exploits 
in the war that were to illustrate the cool courage and 
1776. heroic self-devotion of Capt. Silas Talbot, was performed 
^"g- \)j ]nm during this month, on the Hudson Eiver. An 
old sloop, rigged into a bomb-boat, was placed under his 
command, and prepared as a fire-ship, with which he 
sought to strike a blow that should inspire terror in the 
enemy, and give confidence to his countrymen in the ap- 
proaching conflict. Ascending the river to Fort Washing- 
ton, he arranged his plans to attack the Asia, a sixty-four 
gun-ship, at anchor, with two other British men-of-war, a 
few miles below. When all was ready, the little vessel 
got under-way in the dead of night, and drifting slowdy 
down with the tide, was ahnost afoul of the Asia before 
being discovered. Scarcely had one broadside from the 
doomed ship awakened the slumbering echoes of the high- 
lands, before the grappling irons were fastened to her 

Arnold, Philip Traftan, Benjamin West, Samuel Stevens, Squire Fisk, 
Stephen Hopkins, Ebenczer Macomber, Benjamin Church, and Edward 

Ensigns — John Pearee, Peleg Simmons, Jr., Benjamin Burrouglis, Elisha 
Parker, Benjamin Stelle, John Handy, Samuel Hicks, Henry Alexander, 
Zephaniah Brown, Joseph Springer, Philip Palmer, and Moses Watson. 

Adjutant, Benjamin Stelle ; Quartermaster, John Handy; Surgeon, John 

The officers chosen for the 2d, or Lippitt's regiment, were ; 

Captains — Nathaniel Blackmar, Jonathan Brownell, David Dexter, Lo- 
ring Peck, John Carr, Thomas Gorton, Arthur Fenner, Benjamin Hoppin, 
Simeon Martin, Christopher Dyer, Thomas Arnold. 

Lieutenants — Wilson Rawson, William Jones, David Searle, Gilbert 
Grant, Alexander Thomas, Ichabod Prentice, Jacob Williams, Abraham 
Tourtellot, William Belcher, Peleg Hoxsie, Thomas Noyes, and Reuben 
He wit. 

Ensigns — Joseph Bowen, Gilbert Richmond, Samuel Dexter, Joseph 
Read, Brenton Bliss, Caleb Mathews, William Pullen, John Cowen, PhiUp 
Martin, John Holden, Benjamin Bourne, and David Melvil. 

Adjutant, John Holden ; Quartermaster, Benjamin Bourne ; Surgeon, 
Isaac Ross Bliven ; Major of Brigade, William Barton. 

The officers of artillery were : Robert Elliott, captain ; William Bull, 
captain-lieuienant ; Joshua Sayer, 1st lieutenant; Nathaniel Gladding, 2d 
lieutenant; Rhodes Packard, lieutenant fireworker. 



side, and a colinnn of fire tliat shed the bri^-litness of CIIAp. 
noonday across the surrounding gloom flashed up from 
the blazing bomb-boat. The man who ignited the train, 1776. 
immediately jumped overboard, according to orders, 
while Talbot remained for a few moments to ensure the 
success of his plan. He was badly scorched, owing to 
this delay, but otherwise escaped unharmed, amid a storm 
of shot that was hurled at the retreating boats. One 
oflScer, Ensign John Thomas, of the Khode Island line, 
was drowned upon this expedition. The Asia Avas saved 
from total destrnction only through the desperate efforts 
of her crew and those of the other two ships. So alarmed 
were the enemy at this gallant assault, that they slipped 
their cables and gained a more secure position below the 
city. In the following year,' Congress promoted Capt. 
Talbot to the rank of major, on account of this " spirited 
attempt," and recommended him to Washington for em- 

The arrival of nine thousand German troops, chiefly 12. 
Hessians, at ISTew York, increased the British force in 
America to twenty-two thousand men, nnder Gen. Howe? 
and twenty-five ships-of-war under Admiral Howe, besides 
which a third division of Hessians, five thousand strong, 
was daily expected. The eflective force under AVashing- 
ton was less than twenty thousand. Gen Howe began to 22. 
remove his army from Staten Island to Long Island, where 
Greene, now appointed a major-general, commanded, with 26. 
about nine thousand men, but was obliged by severe illness 
to relinquish the command to Putnam. Some hard fight- 27. 
ing ensued, in which Generals Sullivan and Stirling were 
taken jn-isoners, and Capt. Benijah Carpenter, of the 
Rhode Island line was slain. The next day the British 
attacked the American lines at Brooklyn, but were re- £8. 
pulsed. Washington, finding the position nntenable, re- 
solved to abandon the island, and on the following night, 29. 

' Oct. 10, 1777. 



CHAP, in 2)erson conducted the retreat, and under cover of a 

dense fog, landed tlie whole army safely at New York. 
1776. Before this retreat was known in Khode Island, the 
Sept. ^^gggii^i^iy ordered the entire brigade to the relief of Long 
Island. Col. Lippitt's regiment, with a detachment of 
artillery were to march at once. A committee' w^as sent 
to Xew York, with a letter from Gov. Cooke, to inform 
"Washington of the condition of the colony, and obtain his 
views upon the l)est method to adopt for its defence. Ten 
flats, to carry seventy men each, were constructed for 
service in the bay. The people of New Shoreham, being 
completely in the power of the enemy, were forbidden all 
communication with the continent, in order to prevent in- 
tellio'ence from reachins: the British. Block Island became 
a convenient place for the exchange of seamen and other 
prisoners during the war. More money was required for 
the treasury, and in the new issue of £20,001 in bills 
of credit that was voted, the continental denomination of 
dollars was for the first time adopted, and $66,670, being 
that amount at the rate of six shillings to a dollar, were 

The Assembly had anticipated the action of Congress, 
3. who, the next day, wrote to them to send aid to New York, 
and called on Massachusetts to send a regiment of her 
inilitia to Rhode Island, to supply the place of the conti- 
nental troop's thus withdrawn. 

The departure of the troops for New York, left the 
17. State defenceless. Another regiment was enlisted at 
once, by order of the Becess Committee, to serve for three 
months, nnder Col. John Cooke, and statioued upon the 
island. They w^ere soon reinforced by a body of Massa- 
chusetts militia under Col. Cushing. 
13. The connnittee froui Ehode Island w^aited upon Gen. 
AVasliington, and remained in camp four days, during 
wdiich most important events occurred. The Americans 

^ Joshua Babcock, John Collins, and Joseph Stanton. 



evacuated New York, and tlie British entered it under a CHAP, 
heavy fire from their fleet. The next day a battle was 
fought near Harlaem, in which Yarnuin's and Ilitclicock's 177»J. 
reo^inients distin<j:uished themselves, and Lieutenant Noel 
Allen, of the lihode Island line, was killed.' Congress 
resolved to enlist for thi-ee years, or during the war, an 16. 
army of eighty-eight battalions, of seven hundred and 
fifty men each, two of which were to be raised in this 
State. The term battalions was used for regiments, to 
obviate a difliculty in the exchange of prisoners. 

Washington replied to the Rhode Island letter, thank- 
ing the Assembly for their promptness in ordering the 
two battalions to his relief, and discussing at length the 
subjects presented to him by the committee.^ Congress, 
in notifying the State of the new army arrangement, in 24. 
which the troops already in service were to form a part, 
desired that it should be ascertained what number of 
the ofiicers and men would engage to serve during the 
war. They increased the pay of the army, and wrote 
another letter, urging that means be adopted to prevent 
its disbanding. 

Capt. Whipple, having just returned from a successful 
cruise in the Columbus, in which he had taken some valu- 
able prizes, was promoted to the ncAV frigate Providence. lo. 
New regulations w^ere adopted for the navy, conferring 
upon the oflftcers assimilated rank with those of the army, 
and encouraging enlistments by an increase of prize 
money. The defeat of the flotilla under Gen. Arnold, on 12. 
Lake Champlain, after a bloody action against a greatly 
superior force, opened the road to Crown Point, which 
had been abandoned by the Americans, and was now oc- 20. 
cupied by the enemy. 

The new army arrangement, reducing the three Hhode 
Island regiments now in the field to two, required a re- 

^ Major-General Greene to Governor Cooke, ITth September, 1116. Xo. 62. 
^ This letter, of six closely written foolscap pages, dated 17th September, 
is Xo. 60 of the Rhode Island State Collection for 1776. 
VOL. II. — 61 



CHAP, modellino^ of the list of officers, and a reduction of their 
^^^^ number. Gen. Greene prepared a list to be recommended 
3 776. to the State for appointment, which was sent on by Wash- 

^^^* ington. It was important to know who would agree to 
serve through the war before making the selections. Cok 

15. Lippitt sent on the names of several of his officers who 
volunteered, but many declined to hand in their names 
for fear of being droj^ped. The march of Col. Richmond's 
regiment, whose term of enlistment was nearly expired, 

17. had been countermanded by Gov. Cooke with the appro- 
val of Washington. 

Privateering was conducted on a large scale, and with 
great success from all the seaports of the continent. We 
have the names of no less than sixteen vessels, many of 
them heavily armed and well manned, that were thus en- 
gaged at this time from Rhode Island alone, and doubt- 
less there were many more. The service that these, as 
well as tlie continental cruisers, rendered to the country, 
by obtaining supplies of many articles which the colonial 
policy of England had prevented being produced in 
America, was incalculable. " Without the succors that 
were procured in this manner, the Revolution iimst have 
been checked at the outset." ' Rhode Island was a ren- 
dezvous both for national and private cruisers, and tlie 
papers of tlie day are filled witli the proceedings of admi- 
ralty courts held at Providence, and with the reports of 
their maritime exploits. 

23 On the same clay with the indecisive battle of White 

Plains, the Assembly met at South Kingstown, and elected 
the officers recommended by Washington for the new 
battalions.'' Joseph Clarke was appointed for this State 

^ Cooper's Xaval History, I., 223, where an anecdote is given in the 
note, confirming the statements of the text. 

^ For the 1st battalion, J. M. Varnum, colonel (he declined); Adam 
Comstock, lieutenant-colonel; Henry Sherburne, major ; Captains — Ebenezer 
Flagg, Silas Talbot, Thomas Cole, John S. Dexter, Simeon Martin, Jonathan 
Wallen ; Paymaster, Jonathan Hazzard ; 1st Lieutenants — Joseph Arnold, 



a commissioner of tlie Loan office, lately estal)lislied chap. 
Congress in all the States, and the penalty of death was J^i!^ 
decreed against any one wlio should counterfeit the bills 1776. 
issued by any of these Loan offices. 

The health of the venerable Hopkins preventing his 
constant attendance upon Congress, Deputy-Governor 
Bradford was chosen as a delegate to that body. The 
thanks of the Assembly were tendered to Mr. Hopkins for 
his services, and he was requested to continue them as soon 
as he was able. The two paymasters were sent on to 
Gen. Washington, with a letter from the Assembly and 
the new commissions for the officers. Tlie last Thursday 
in IS^ovember w^as appointed as a day of Thanksgiving. 
Those towns whose local officers had neglected to sub- 
scribe the test, w^ere required to hold new elections. 
Under this law the last recorded town meeting held at 
Kewport for three years, w^as holden to fill the vacancies j^ov. 
thus occasioned. 1^- 

The capture of Fort Washington, and the occupation iq^ 
of the west side of the Hudson Eiver by the British, com- 
pelled the evacuation of Fort Lee, then in command of 20. 
Gen. Greene. Cornwallis entered the Jerseys, and oc- 
cupied Newark. Then commenced that memorable re- 24. 

William Belcher, Timothy Lock, Samuel Bissell, Wilson Rawson, William 
Potter, John Handy, Thomas Noyes ; 2d Lieutenants — Ichabod Prentice, 
John Chapman, John Remington ; Ensign, Zephaniah Brown ; Quarter- 
master, Clarke Brown. For the 2d battalion — Daniel Hitchcock, colonel ; 
Israel Angell, lieutenant-colonel; Christopher Smith, major; Captains — 
Jeremiah Olney, William Tew, Coggeshall Olney, Ephraim Bowen, William 
Bradford, Jr., John Carr, Abimalech Riggs ; 1st Lieutenants — Stephen 
Olney, William Allen, William Littlefield, Gilbert Grant, Joseph Whitmarsh, 
Daniel Pearce, Amos Crandall, Micah Moulton ; 2d Lieutenants — Thomas 
Hughes, Duty Jerrald ; Ensigns — Ebenezor West, HoUiman Potter, Thomas 
Waterman, Oliver Jenckes, Richard Hunniwell; Quartermaster, Cyprian 
Sterry : Paymaster, Charles Holden. 

It will be seen that many vacancies are left among the company officers, 
especially of the lower grades. These were to be filled by the officers at 
their discretion. Both battalions were much changed by death and pro- 
motion during the winter. 



CHAP, treat which, for the ensuing month, phiced the Americaa 

cause in utmost periL 
1776. Congress proposed a convention of the New England 
^^q' States to be held at Providence in December, to consider 

the subject of currency, and how to sustain the contmen- 

tal credit. 

CoL Richmond's regiment being disbanded, another 
21. was raised bv the Assembly, for three months' service, to 
include six in every one hundred men above eighteen 
years of age in the State. John Sayles, jr., was appointed 
colonel.' The inducements to privateering so impeded 
enlistments for the army, that the Assembly proposed to 
the other States to lay a general embargo until the quotas 
recpiired by Congress were filled. This measure was also 
27. suggested by Gen. Lee in a letter to Gov. Cooke a few 
days later. Cols. Yarnum and Hitchcock, and the com- 
28-30. iiiittee who had taken on the commissions, all sent home 
lists of officers who declined to serve, and of otliers recom- 
mended to fill the vacancies, a duty wdiicli Washington 
entrusted to them, who w^ere afterwards confirmed by the 

A gloomy period in the afiPairs of Ehode Island was 
about to commence ; one wdiich was to task to the utmost 
the military energies of the State by making it, for nearly 
three years, the theatre of war. Seven ships of the line, 
and four frigates, under Sir Peter Parker, appeared ofi" 
Block Island, and the next day went up the sound to join 
the fleet of seventy transports, having on board about six 
thousand troops destined for Newport. All the militia 
of the State were immediately under arms, and expresses 
were sent as far as New Hampshire to summon aid. The 

^ Benjamin Tallman was appointed lieutenant-colonel, and Thomas Pot- 
ter, jr., major of this regiment. The company officers of this and of Colo- 
nel Cooke's command were chiefly taken from the recently disbanded forces, 
and as they were enlisted but for three months, before which time an en- 
tirely new military organization was made on a more permanent basis, their 
names are not given. Stephen Wigneron was appointed surgeon to this 
brigade, which was stationed upon the island. 



Recess Committee advised Com. Hopkins to put to sea, chap. 
but this he was unable to do for want of men. Tliey 
ordered another regiment to be drafted, of which Joseph 1776. 
Stanton was made colonel, and John Reynolds lieutenant- ^' 
colonel, and aj)pointed Gen. West as brigadier of the 
troops on the island. One full regiment of Providence 
county militia volunteered for service on the island, w^ith- 6. 
out awaiting the draft, and was placed in command of 
Col. Chad Brown. An embargo was laid on all priva- 
teers and merchantmen, to facilitate the manning of the 
navy. The w^omen and children in the seaboard towns, 
especially Newport, Providence, Bristol, and East Green- 
wich, were advised to move, with tlieir furniture, to the 
interior. Prisoners of war were placed on board Com. 
Hopkins' ships, or sent into the country for security. Tlie 
stock on Rhode -Island and Conanicut was driven oif. 
Warwick Neck was defended by Col. John Waterman's 
Kent county regiment, Pawtuxet by Col. Samuel Aborn, 
and Tower Hill by Col. Joseph Noyes. There were 
about seven hundred troops on the island when the 
enemy, having throughout the week made several feints 
at landing in Connecticut, entered the bay, and rounding 
the north end of Conanicut, anchored off Stoddard's shore 
in Middletown. 

On the following day the army disembarked, one g 
regiment at Long wharf, the main body at Greensdale,' 
in Middletown, and after a night of pillage, the next 
morning marched into Newport." A large portion of them 
were quartered at the farm houses on the island during 
the winter. Besides English infantry and a corps of light 

' Now the residence of the Hon. Nathaniel Greene, grandson of Maj. 
Gen. Greene, and lately for many years State Senator from ^liddletown. 

^ Here occurs a large gap, .and the only one, in the records of the town 
of Portsmouth, the most coriiplete, best preserved records in the State. 
The last meeting before the British occupation was held on the 2d Dec, to 
enlist the 16 men apportionea to be raised by that town, and for other busi- 
ness. The meeting then adjourned to lOth Dec, Then follows this 
memorandum: "Rhode Island, &c. On Sunday, 8th day of Dec, 17T6, 



CHAP, liorse, there were several Hessian re2;iments, the whole 


^^^^^ under couiniancl of Gen. Clinton.' Earl Percy, and 
1776. Major-General Prescot, were also in the expedition. The 
American troops left the island. Col. Cook encamped at 
Tiv^erton, and Gen. West at Bristol. Assistance was 
poured in from the neighboring States. From Massachu- 
setts, the Bristol and Plymouth county brigades, under 
Godfrey and Gushing, with three regiments and a train 
of artillery from Worcester and Boston, were despatched 
by the legislature ; and from Connecticut three regiments 
and five companies with a small body of cavalry, were 
sent by Gov. Trumbull. These were quartered at all the 
defensible points on each side of the bay. The State and 
the island were two great and hostile camps. Providence 
was given up to military occupation. Many of the in- 
habitants moved away, the college exercises were sus- 
pended, and the building was occupied as barracks, and 
afterwards for a military hospital. 
10. The Assembly convened at Greenwich, but for greater 
12. safety, adjourned to Providence. A council of war, com- 
posed of ten members, was appointed, to exercise the 
power heretofore held by the Pecess Committee, and re- 
quests were sent to the other New England colonies to 
send committees to Providence to devise means for raising 
an army, and thus to relieve the militia now in the field. 
A brigade of three regiments, two of infantry, each of 
seven hundred and fifty men in eight companies, and one 
of artillei-y, of three hundred men in five companies, was 

about 8000 of British troops landed and took possession of this island, and 
remained until Monday, the 25th day of October, A. D. 1779, for which time 
the Inhabitance was greatly opresed." The next recorded meeting was held 
Nov. 27, 1779. 

' The British regiments were the 22d, Col. Campbell ; 43d, Col. Marsh ; 
54th, Col. Bruce; 63d, Col. Sell, of infantry ;^:nid Col. Ennis's regiment of 
artillery. The Hessian regiments were Haynau's, Beno's, Bedford Lunds- 
craft Socier's, and Anspiker's. The last waSn-ouiposed of men all six feet 
in height. 



ordered to be enlisted for fifteen months' service.' Gen. CHAP. 
Yarnuni was appointed to this brigade, having resigned 
his colonelcy in the army at New York, and Gen. Mai- 1776. 
medy, a French officer recommended to the State by Gen. 
Lee, was apjjointed " Chief Engineer, and Director of the 
works of defence in this State," with the rank of briga- 
dier. Jonathan Clarke was appointed Linguist to Gen. 
Malmedy, with the rank of major. 

The proposal for a convention at Providence was at ^6. 
once adopted by Massachusetts. Connecticut was equally jg. 
prompt, and New Hampshire also elected a committee on 19. 

^ The officers of this brigade were : Of Infantry — Cols. Benjamin Tall- 
man, Joseph Stanton ; Lieut. Cols. Christopher Smith, Archibald Crary ; 
Majors Wm. Bradford, Jr., Wm. Barton ; and Cyprian Sterry, Brigade Major. 

Officers of Tallman's Regiment. — Captains — Abimelech Riggs, Caleb 
Carr, Reuben Ballou, James Williams, James Parker, Thomas Allen, Chris- 
topher Manchester, Benjamin Church. 1st Lieuts. — David Bacon, Ebenezer 
Macomber, Wm. Sayles, Jacob Belknap, Rufus Barton, Wm. Lawless, Wal- 
ter Palmer, Henry Alexaiider. 2d do. — Wm. Allen, Walter Channing, Benj. 
S. Wallcott, Zadock W^illiams, Jonathan Maxson, Thomas Swan, Robert 
Rogers, Daniel Green. Ensigns — Abin. Andrews, Daniel Fiske, Samuel 
Whipple, Daniel Sheldon, Barber Peckham, Thomas Pearce, Joshua Bab- 
cock 2d, Joseph Hopkins (S. of S.) Adjutant — Benjamin Stelle. Quarter- 
master — John Handy. 

Of Stanton's Regiment. — Captains — Thomas Thompson, Royal Smith, 
Malachi Hammett, James Albro, Peleg Slocum, Josiah Gibbs, Benjamin 
West, Nathaniel Hawkins. 1st Lieuts. — Peleg Berry, Wm. Coon, Micah 
WHiitmarsh, John Cole, Gabriel Allen, Philip Traftan, Joseph Springer, John 
Pearce. 2d Lieuts. — Matthew Randall, Edward Crandall, Job Greene, Fran- 
cis W. Gardner, David Bently, Isaac Johnston, Charles Dyre, Edward 
Coleman. Ensigns — Daniel Stafford, James Cotterell, Wm. Whipple, Joseph 
Manchester, Nathan Westcott, George Briggs, Asa Kenna, Joseph Rhodes. 
Adjutant — Jonathan Duval, Jr. Quartermaster— Solomon Townsend, Jr. 

Of the Artillery Regiment.— Col —Robert Elliot. Lt. Col.— Wm. Wall. 
Major — Job Pearce. Captains — Joshua Sayer, Jabez Westcott, Samuel 
Sweet, Gideon Westcott, Ebenezer Adams. Capt. Lieuts. — Nathaniel Glad- 
ding, PhiUp . Morse, John Warner, Samuel Angell, John Garzia. 1st 
Lieuts. — Rhodes Packard, Thomas Carlile, Wm. Comstock, Amos Jillson, 
Joseph Crandall. 2d Lieuts.— Wm. Ham, Ezekiel Bnrket, Elijah Babbitt, 
Uriah Westcott, John Proud. Lieut. Fireworkers — Edward Price, Cyrus 
Manchester, Wm. Page, Benjamin Bickford, Wm. Fiske. Adjutant — Wm. 
Dennison. Quartermaster — George Richards. 



CHAP, the first day that lier legislature met. Major-General 
J^^^ Lincoln arrived at Providence with orders to take the 
1776. chief command. It was reported that the enemy intend- 
ed to march to Boston by way of Providence. Martial 
20. law was proclaimed by the council of war. The Assem- 
23. bly met at Providence, and two days later the New Eng- 
land convention, composed of three members from each 

25. State,' also assembled. Hon. Stephen Hopkins was cho- 
sen ]3resident. The two bodies consulted together through 

26. the session. Tlie convention advised that an army of 
about six thousand men should be concentrated in this 
State, and assigned the quotas to be furnished by each 

29. State — to Massachusetts, nineteen hundred, to Connecti- 
cut, eleven hundred, to New Hampshire, three hundred, 
and to Rhode Island eighteen hundred, besides a thousand 
continental troops. 

The question of currency was also discussed, and it 

27. was recommended that no more paper money be issued, 
unless in extreme cases, but that taxation, and borrowing 
at five per cent, be resorted to for the supply of the treasu- 
ries. The Assembly approved of this resolve, and ordered 
a loan of forty thousand pounds to be raised upon State 
notes, to be redeemed in two years by a tax. The con- 

31. vention also agreed upon an act to prevent monopolies, 
regulating the prices of labor, of food, clothing, and the 
essentials of life, which the Assembly adopted, with some 
additions, and affixed penalties to its violation. 

Two fire-ships were ordered to be placed in charge of 
Capt. Silas Talbot. The two regiments whose short terms 
of enlistment had nearly expired, were disbanded, in 
order that the men might enter the new brigade. The 
whole eff"ective force of the State was drafted for service, 
in three divisions, each to serve one month. An army 
hospital was established imder the direction of Dr. Jona- 

1 Tlie R. I. members were Hon. Stephen Hopkins, Hon. Wm. Bradford, 
and Henry Ward, Esq. 



than Arnold. The Assembly now fixed the pay of its chap. 
members at nme shillings a day, but the act gave so mucli ^^^^ 
dissatisfaction, that it was repealed the following April. 1770. 
While these two bodies were sitting at Providence, events 
of great importance took place at the seat of war. Con- 
gress had adjourned to Baltimore, as it was feared that 20. 
Philadelphia would be captured, and did not return till 
the following March. To check the progress of the 
enemy, Washington recrossed the Delaware in the night, 25. 
Avith less than twenty-three hundred men, and forming his 
army in two divisions under Generals Greene and Sulli- 
van, attacked the Hessian advanced post at Trenton early 26. 
the next morning. The two divisions assaulted the town 
from opposite sides at the same time, and in a few^ minutes, 
with a charge of bayonets, routed the surprised and be- 
wildered enemy. The desperate condition of the army, 
of which a large portion was about disbanding, their term 
of service closing with the year, led Congress to confer 27. 
upon Washington almost dictatorial powers, for six 
months, that he might reorganize it upon a better basis. 

The last night of the year was a turning point in the 31. 
Pevolution. The remnants of the army were assembled 
at Crosswicks ; the time of the New England regiments 
had expired, except Lippitt's, which had but eighteen 
days more to serve, and as yet there were none but raw 
militia to take their place. The whole army did not 
number four thousand men, and Cornwallis, with ten 
thousand men, was said to be marching from Princeton 
to attack them. In the brigade commanded by Col. 
Hitchcock, as the oldest colonel, were the three Phode 
Island regiments, Yarnum's, Hitchcock's and Lippitt's, 
with two from Massachusetts. Lippitt's regiment com- 
prised more than one third the number of men. Gen. 
Mifflin, at the request of Washington, harangued the bri- 
gade to persuade them to volunteer for another month. i. ' 
" He did it well," says an eye-witness, and every man 
poised his firelock as the signal of assent. Within two 



CHAP, hours tlie army was on a niglit march for Trenton, which 
it had left two days before, and where it arrived the next 
1777. morning. Scarcely had the soldiers entered the houses, 
Jan. 2. lately vacated by the Hessians, when the drums beat 
to arms. Cornwallis was approaching the town. Some 
troops were sent out to check his advance, and Hitchcock's 
brigade was ordered to cross the bridge, over a small 
creek that empties into the Delaware near that place, to 
cover their retreat. Near the close of the day the British 
entered the town, driving before them the American de- 
tachment. The brigade opened ranks to let the fugitives 
pass through, and then closing in solid column, left in 
front, commenced a retreat to the bridge, exposed to a 
flanking fire at all the cross streets. The enemy attempt- 
ed, by an oblicpie movement, to cut them off from the 
bridge, but were prevented. The brigade passed in 
safety, and re-formed on the other side of tlie creek, while 
the artillery, planted upon and at the right and left of the 
bridge, checked the advance of the British until the bri- 
gade returned to the edge of the stream and repulsed 

All honor to the gallant men who, there, by the side 
of Washington, defended the pass at Trenton bridge ! 
Upon their bravery, for one short but pregnant hour, 
hung the destiny of America ; for had Cornwallis crossed 
the bridge, the whole army must have surrendered. Yet 
history has scarcely noticed the deeds of that eventful 
day, without which the victory at Trenton would have 
been in vain, and the battle of Princeton would never 
have been fought. 

At midnight Washington silently withdrew his army, 
and by a circuitous route advanced on Princeton, where, 
g at sunrise, a victory was obtained over three British regi- 
ments, two of them already on their way to join Corn- 
wallis. Gen. Mercer, of Yirginia, was killed in this 
action. After the battle, Washington, taking Col. Hitch- 
cock by the hand, expressed high admiration of his con- 


duct and of that of his troops, and desired him to convey CTIAP. 
his thanks to tlie brigade. A third night's march brought ,.1^1^ 
them, near midnight, to Somerset Court House, wliere 1777. 
the exhausted troops laid down on the frozen ground *^'^"* 
without food or shelter. The next day they went into 
winter quarters at Morristown. New Jersey had been 
recovered by the masterly achievements of the past few 
days. Soon after the encampment at Morristown, Col. 
Hit^'hcock died, the brigade was broken up, and the regi- 
ments were stationed at different places until their term 
of voluntary enlistment expired, when they were sent off 
in small parties for home, unpaid, half clothed, and pen- 

" to beg their bread 

Through reahiis their valor saved." ^ 

- For six months no decisive action occurred, but skir- 
mishes, in which the Americans generally prevailed, were 
frequent along the opposing lines. 

The New England convention closed their proceedings !• 
by recommending the last Wednesday of the month to 
be kept as a solemn fast, and adjourned the next day. 2. 
The Assembly appointed the fast day, passed a vote ap- 
proving the acts of the convention, and adjourned at the 
same time. 

The British frigate Cerberus, laying at Fogland Ferry, ^'^ 
in the East passage, was driven from her moorings by the 
troops at Little Compton who brought two pieces of artil- 
lery to bear upon her, damaged the hull, killed six of the 
crew, and wounded many others. The Americans had 
one man wounded. 

Gen. Arnold, sent by Washington to assist in the de- 
fence of Khode Island, arrived at Providence. He was 12. 
made a major-general by Congress, and Col. Yarnum 
was appointed a brigadier. The arrival of the Marquis de 

^ For a more full account of the affiiir at Trenton bridge, and of the 
sufferings of the army at this time, see Coweirs "Spirit of '76," pp. 307-10. 




Lafayette, to enter the service, at this time, was a great 
hel]) to the American cause. 

Four days after the repulse of the Cerberus, the Brit- 
ish hmded upon Prudence Island, and burned the last re- 
maining buildings, tlius completing the desolation begun 
bj Wallace. Gen. Clinton returned to England, leaving 
Lord Percy in connnand. 

AYashington disapproved of raising the brigade lately 
ordered in Rhode Island, lest it should interfere with the 
enlistment of the two battalions assigned to this State, 
lie wrote an earnest letter on the subject, followed by 
24. another of similar purj^ort. But wlien the real state of 
Feb. affairs was made known to him by Gov. Cooke, ^ he ap- 
Mar. pi'oved the plan, and thanked the State for its exertions. 
3. The British erected batteries on the heights at the east 

side of the island, near Fogland Ferry, and also at the 
north, on Butt's Hill. The proceedings of the New Eng- 
2g ' land convention, forwarded to Congress, were diseussed 
Feb. at intervals for several weeks, and finally approved, ex- 
cept the proposals that the bills on which loans were to 
be procured should bear interest, and similar measures 
were recommended to the otlier States. Congress also 
Jan. advised the States to enter upon their public records a 
copy of the Declaration of Independence, with the signa- 
tures, which was done here at the March session. 
Feb. The Assembly elected a portion of the officers for the 
two continental battalions'^ that were being raised, and 



* This correspondence, preserved in the State's collection of IIYV, is 
printed in the " Spirit of '76," pp. 127-33. 

^ Many of the officers in the two regiments recently disbanded in New 
Jersey, retained their commissions in the two new battalions. The com- 
mand of the 1st was reserved for Col. Christopher Greene, who had not yet 
been exchanged since his capture at Quebec. The officers now chosen 
were: Of the 1st Battalion : — Major — Samuel Ward ; Capts. — JohnTopham, 
Elisha Lewis, Ohver Clarke; Lieuts. — Joseph Whitmarsh, Peleg Hoxsie, 
Elias Hull, James Webb, Ichabod Prentice, Edward Slocum, William Davis, 
Jr., Samuel Hicks ; Ensigns — Elias Blanchard, Elias Thompson, Samuel 
Northup, Richmond Springer, Wm. Gardner, Henry Tew, Jr., Jonathan 



allowed soldiers of tlie State bri^-ade, tlie fifteen inoiitlis' chap. 
men, as they were called, to enlist in the new regiments ; ^^^^^ 
but recruiting, for some reason, proceeded very slowly. 1777. 
The old act for the relief of tender consciences, which 
had so long protected the Quakers from military service, 
and at each approach of war had been revived, was again 
enacted. Henry Marchant was chosen a delegate to Con- 
gress, making three representatives from this State now 
in that body. William Greene was elected chief-justice. ' 
A new loan of fifty thousand pounds, npon notes payable 
in five years, with four per cent, interest, was ordered. 

The Marine Committee sent orders to Com. Hopkins, 5. 
to despatch four vessels under Capt. Paul Jones of the 
Alfred, upon an expedition ; but that portion of the navy 
blocked up at Providence, could neither be manned or 
got to sea. A British schooner of eight guns having run 
aground between Prudence and Patience Islands, the 
sloop Providence went down to capture her, but the crew 
set fire to and blew her up before the Providence could 
reach the spot. A week later the row-galley Spitfire, now 21. 
schooner-rigged, in covering the landing of a party to bi'ing 
oflf hay from Pliode Island, had an action, which lasted for 
several hours, with a battery on the shore, in which the 
Americans lost one man killed and several wounded.' 

Davis, Daniel Tillinghast ; Adjutant— John Holden, Jr. Of the 2d Battalion : 
— Col. — Israel Angell ; Lt. Col. — Jeremiah Olney ; Major — Simeon Thayer; 
Capts. — DaA'id Dexter, Stephen Olney, Wm. Allen, Wm. Potter, James 
Williams ; Lieuts. — Thomas Hughes, Dutee Jerauld, Ebenezer West, Thom- 
as Waterman, Sylvanus Shaw, Wm. Humphrey, Oliver Jenckcs, Benedict 
Tew, Barber Peckham, Samuel Bissell, Job Clapp ; Ensigns — John Harris, 
Thomas Waterman, Jabez Arnold, Mathew Coggeshall, John Finch, Benja- 
min L. Peckham, Robert Helme, Cliristopher Phillips. 

In May, Col. Greene was chosen to command the 1st battalion ; Simon 
Smith, Luke Greene, Asa Miner and Israel Stoddard were chosen Ensigns 
of the same ; John Cooke, Quartermaster ; Peter Turner, Surgeon • Charles 
Thompson, Chaplain. In Col. Angell's battalion, Sylvanus Shaw was made 
a Captain ; Nathan Olney, Lieut.; Elijah Hiiwkins and Joseph Cornell, 
Ensigns ; and Ebenezer David, Chaplain. 

^ The officers of the Spitfire were, Isaac Tyler, Capt. ; Josiah Simmons 
and Abel Weathers, Lieuts. ; chosen in Dec, 1776. 



CHAP. A valuation of the property in the State was presented 
J,.;^ to the Assembly, and a tax of sixteen thousand pounds 
1777. was voted. A deputation of six Oneida chiefs arrived at 
g Providence, and appeared before the Assembly, by whom 
some valuable presents were made to them. Their busi- 
ness was to pledge the neutrality of their tribe in the war, 
if not their active aid against the English. An expedi- 
tion to attack Rhode Island the coming week was planned, 
the militia were called out to serve till the twentieth, and 
volunteers in the neighboring towns of Massachusetts were 
called U2>on, to meet at Tiverton on the twelfth of the 
month. Large rewards were offered for prisoners taken 
from the enemy. But the States were deficient in the 
quotas assigned to them by the recent convention. New 
Hampshire had sent none, only a portion of the others 
had yet appeared, and the one thousand continental troops 
could not be had, the forces having been sent off to tlie 
defence of Ticonderoga.' Tlie attempt was, therefore, re- 
24. luctantly deferred. At the adjourned session. Generals 
Yarnum, West, and Malmedy, were discharged, their 
services being superseded by the continental officers 
already sent by Washington. A census of all males above 
sixteen years of age was ordered, that the effective force 
of the State might be accurately known. Places were 
designated where freemen of the four towns in possession 
of the enemy^ might meet, if as many as seven in number, 
and vote for State and town officers at the ensuing elec- 
tion. Delegates in Congress, hitherto appointed by the 
Assembly, were hereafter to be elected by tlie people at 
the same time Avith State officers. In addition to the 
Loan Office, Congress had established lotteries to raise 
funds, and thus to ^sustain the credit of the continental 
bills. Agents to sell tickets were sent to all the States, 
and this Assembly denounced the penalty of death against 

^ Letter of the Assembly to Gov. Trumbull, March, 1777.— Trumbull 
Papers, Vol. vi., No. 57. 

^ Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth and Jamestown. 


any one who sliould counterfeit these tickets. Congress CHAP, 
also resolved that State bills ot* credit might be exchanged 
for Loan Office certificates, such amounts to go towards 1777. 
paying the continental debt due to the States. 

A serious misunderstanding had arisen in the navy, 
concerning the distribution of prize money, w^hich had not 
yet been divided. The Assembly had written to the 
Marine Committee, and had also conferred on the subject 
with Com. Hopkins, between whom and the j)rize agents 
and officers much correspondence had passed. A decision 
adverse to the views of the commodore was rendered by 25. 
the committee, before w^hom charges and complaints 
against him were presented by several officers. The next 
day he was sus])ended from his command by Congress, 26. 
and formal notice of their action was sent to him by the 29. 
President in a brief letter.^ 

The row-galley "Washington blew up near Bristol, de- ^P^^^ 
stroying eight men. The Marine Committee ordered the 5. 
two new frigates at Providence to be sent to sea, and if 
not yet manned, to go round to Boston for a crew. Con- 
gress recommended to the State to make another attempt 
to dislodge the enemy from Phode Island, but some 
months passed before the effort could be renewed. On 
the general voting day the soldiers at the several posts 
were allowed by the council of war to cast their proxies 
for State and town officers, which were sent to their re- 
spective towns. 

The Assembly granted a charter to the Xewto-wn 
Pangers, a company doing duty at Updike's Newtown, 
now Wickford. They also took measures to enlist five 
hundred men for the two continental battalions, to be 
ready on the tenth of May, by apportioning that number 
among the towns to be raised by draft, and required those 
who, under " the act for the relief of tender consciences," 
were personally exempt from military service, to be 

^ Hancock's Letter Books, Xo. vi., p. ITO. 



CHAP, equally with otlier citizens, subject to the draft, and if 
drawn, to hire substitutes. The attack on Danbury, in 

1777. repelling which Gen. Wooster was slain, gave a stimulus 

^26^^ to the recruiting service in New England. 

The doctrine of popular sovereignty in its broadest ap- 
plication, has nowhere been more clearly defined, or more 
28. signally illustrated, than in the instructions given at this 
time by the town of Scituate to their deputies. In this 
paper is found the earliest protest against the inequalities 
of representation fastened upon the State by the royal 
charter, and the most republican ideas of the origin of 
that instrument, as being primarily derived from the 
people. The townsmen of Scituate held that, upon the 
Declaration of Independence, the charter became void, 
and hence that no legal government existed in the State, 
" as it appears," say they, " that at the time our ances- 
tors petitioned the King of Great Britain to take them 
under his j^rotection, the power of government was vested 
in the i:)eople, and by them legally vested in the King, 
by Avhich he was clothed with authority to grant said 
charter ; and upon the Declaration aforesaid, the power 
again vested in the people, where, we are convinced, it still 
remains, as we do not find the people have, since that 
time, either by any 2)erson legally authorized by them, or 
themselves, fixed any settled form of government." They 
complain especially that the charter allows but two repre- 
sentatives to any but the four original towns, and instruct 
their deputies to j^i'ocure an act, establishing a form of 
government, to be submitted to the people for adoption 
or amendment, in which the representation shall be adjust- 
ed on a basis of population and property.' 

The return of Lord Percy to England, left Gen, Pres- 

■^^^ cott in command at Newport. The British army estab- 
lished a newsj^aper at that place, called the Newport 

* The Committee who drafted these instructions were Ezekiel Cornell, 
Wm. West and Rufus Hopkins. — Foster Papers, Vol. xi. 


Gazette. The peo2:>le at the late election cliose tlie same CHAP, 
general officers as last year, except that William Chan- 
ning was made attorney-general in place of Henry Mar- 1777. 
chant, who was elected a delegate to Congress with Hop- ^^^^ 
kins and Ellery. The Assembly empowered Capt. Hop- 
kins, of the frigate Warren, to impress seamen for his ^• 
crew, and soon after gave the same power to Capt. AVhip- 19. 
pie of the Providence. The enlistments proceeded so 
slowly, that additional bounties were offered, and one 
thousand men to be raised for the State brigade, were ap- 
portioned among the towns. In Exeter there was so 
much disaffection, that Gen. Spencer was requested to 
march some troops into that town, to seize the turbulent 
leaders, and protect the wxll-disposed inhabitants. The 
scarcity of small money led to the emission of bills to the 
amount of forty-five hundred pounds in fractional parts 
of a dollar. A premium of sixty pounds was offered for 
every ton of steel, similar to the German, that should be 
manufactured in the State. The monopoly act, regulating 
the prices of indispensable articles, was revised at great 
length, and a treason act, denouncing death against any 
who should be found guilty of making w^ar, or aiding in 
the same, against this State or the United States, was 

The lines of a fort on College Hill in Providence, were 
laid by Gen. Spencer, to be completed by the inhabitants. 13. 
Much activity w^as observed among the enemy at New- 
port. A large fleet sailed for New York w^ith reinforce- 20. 
ments for Gen. Howe, promising a more active campaign 
for the latter half of the year. The stars and stripes were 
adopted by Congress for the national banner, but the '^"^^ 
order was not promulgated till September. The Assem- 
bly adopted the United States' navy regulations for the 16. 
vessels in the service of this State, and ordered the council 
of war to procure five vessels for the State, two to be 
armed as cruisers, and three to be employed in importing 
goods required in the public service. The embargo upon 
VOL. II. — 62 



CHAP, shipping was repealed, and tlie corps of officers for the 
3^-^ State brigade was revised, and new appointments made.' 
1777. The row-galley Washington Avas repaired and rigged as a 
June sehooner, and placed in command of Joseph Manran. 

A movement to dislodge the enemy from New Bruns- 
22. wick was made, under command of Gen. Greene. Two 
divisions advanced from Middlebrook, one composed of 
two brigades, by the east side of the Earitan River, the 
other, of Yarnnm's brigade, by the west. Howe retreated 
toAvards Amboy, losing about three hundred men in a skir- 
July 6 mish with Morgan's riflemen. The evacuation of Ticon- 
deroga by Gen. St. Clair surprised every one. Burgoyne, 
who with an army of eight thousand men had just arrived 
before it, was inspired with a rash confidence by the 

The Assembly appointed three delegates^ to attend a 
convention at Springfield, to consider the subject of cur- 
rency, and the defence of Rhode Island. They also voted 
a sword to Major Simeon Thayer for his services in the 
second continental battalion for this State. 

A daring act, which more than atoned for the capture 
of Lee, seven months before, was skilfully planned and 
gallantly executed by Lieutenant-Colonel William Barton. 
This was the seizure of Gen. Prescott, the British com- 
mander on Rhode Island.* He was quartered with an 

^ The regimental officers now chosen were : Of the 1st Regiment — Wil- 
liam Barton, Lieut. -Col, ; Nathaniel Hawkins, Major. Of the 2d Regiment — 
Archibald Crary, Col. ; John Topham, Lieut. -Col. ; James WilUams, Major. 
The artillery regiment remained as in December. The long list of company 
officers given on p. 391 was much altered at this time. Indeed, the changes 
were so constant from resignation, casualty, and exchanges from one to 
the other service, State and Continental, that it would be tedious and useless 
to enumerate them. The brigade was first enlisted in Dec, 1776, for 15 
months ending 16th March, 1778; then re-enlisted for one year, and again 
for another year ending 16th March, 1780, when it was disbanded, after 
3 years and 3 months' service. The pay-roll of the brigade, giving the 
names of all the officers and privates at that time, is printed in Cowell's 
Spirit of '76, pp. 65-117. 

^ Hon. Stephen Hopkins, Dep. Gov. Wm. Bradford, and Paul Mumford. 

barton's CAPTUKE of general rilESCOTT. 

aide-de-camp, at a house in Portsmouth on the west road, CH. 
about five miles from Newport. Barton was stationed at 
Tiverton. Selecting six trusty officers and thirty-four 177 
men, the party rowed to Bristol, in five whaleboats, on '^"^^ 
the fourth of July, and thence, on the night of the sixth, 6- 
to Warwick Neck, where a storm detained them for two 
days. On the third night afterward he embarked. In 9. 
perfect silence the boats were pulled between Prudence 
and Patience Islands, so near to the enemy's ships as to 
hear the cry, " AlFs well," of the sentinel on board, and 
landing on the Portsmouth shore, about a mile from their 
destination, the party marched in five divisions to the 
house. The sentinel on guard was secured by stratagem, 
one division watched the road, while three others entered 
at the different doors. Prescott was taken in bed, his 
aide-de-camp leaped from a window but was arrested, and 
the whole party silently returned to the boats. They 
passed the ships before any alarm was given, and at day- 
light reached Warwick Neck. The whole affair occupied 
six and a half hours. Prescott and his aide were 
carried in a coach to Providence, and four days later, for 
greater safety, were sent, on parole, to Connecticut to be 14 
placed in charge of Gov. Trumbull. Gen. Pigot was or- 
dered from New York to take command of the British 
army on Rhode Island. Congress voted a sword to Col. 2i 
Barton for this gallant act. A few months later he was Dec 
appointed aide-de-camp to Gen. Greene, and then made a 2- 
colonel by Congress, who specially recommended him to 
Gen. Washington.^ 

^ An account of this affair, with depositions of parties concerned, and a 
list of their names, is given in " Spirit of '76 in Rhode Island," pp. 147-150. 
A complete narrative by Colonel Barton himself, in manuscript, is pre- 
served in the Foster papers, Miscel., volume 1. A copy of Prescott's parole 
from Trumbull papers, vol. vi.. No. 179, is here given: 

" State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 
I Richard Prescott, Esq., major-general in the service of his Brittanick 
Majesty, being made a prisoner of war by the army of the United States of 
America, do promise upon my word and honor, and upon the faith and 
credit of a gentlemen, to depart from here to the First Society in the town 



CHAP. The New Eno-land convention, in which New York 
XXI 1 

was also represented by one delegate, met at Springfield. 

1777. Hon. Stephen Hopkins was president. They remained in 
'^^^^ session one week. To remedy the evils arising from an 
Aug. inflated paper currency, they recommended that all State 
^' bills be redeemed by taxation, that no more be issued ex- 
cept for small change, and that taxes be assessed quarterly 
to defray war expenses. They also advised that the 
4- monopoly act, having failed of its purpose, be repealed, 
but that soldiers and their families be supplied by the 
State, to the extent of their wages, at the prices stated in 
that act, and that laws against engrossers be passed ; that 
restrictions upon trade between the States should be re- 
6' moved, and that for the defence of Rhode Island an army 
of about four thou&and men be maintained by the New 
England States.' These proceedings were afterwards ap- 
proved by Congress, and made the basis of important 

Many slight affairs with the enemy occurred in the 
bay. The Renown, a fifty -gun ship, was driven from her 

2. moorings off Dutch Island, by the lire of Col. Elliot's ar- 
tillery. The same night a party landed on the island and 
secured some stock, after which, proceeding to Conanicut, 
in emulation of Barton, they brought off two prisoners. 

5. Three days later a foraging party of two hundred British 

of Lebanon, in the State of Connecticut, being the place of my destination 
and residence, and there to remain until otherwise disposed of by Governor 
Trumbull (who is desired by General Spencer to take the particular charge 
of me) until the Commander-in-chief of the United States shall manifest his 
pleasure with regard to my disposal, or until I shall be duly exchanged or 
discharged ; and that I will not directly or indirectly give intelligence of 
any kind, or say or do anything to the prejudice of the United States of 
Amei'ica, during the time of my restraint. 

Given under my hand, at Providence, this 14th day of July, A. D. 
1777. Rd. PRESCOTT." 

Major William Barrington, the aide-de-camp, signed a similar parole, 
July 12th. 

' These proceedings are filed in the Secretary's office. The important 
portions are printed in "Spirit of '76," pp. 136-40- 



landed in Xarraganset, and were repnlsed by tlie militia CHAP. 
Avitli some loss on both sides. On the same day Capt. 
Dyer, with a company of sixty men, crossed from Tiverton 1777. 
to the island, attacked a body of seventy of the enemy 
who had fired on some fishing boats, and drove them to 
their fort. Dyer was wonnded in this affair. The battle 
of Bennington checked the contemplated advance of Bnr- 16. 
goyne into Xew England, where he proposed a junction, 
at Springfield, with Pigot's forces from Khode Island. 

Tlie Assembly passed the necessary laws to carry out 18. 
the views of the Springfield convention, and also prohibit- 
ed the distillation of grain, on account of the scarcity of 
provisions. They voted eleven hundred and twenty dol- 
lars to Col. Bartori and his party for the capture of Pres- 
cott and his aide, and assessed a tax of thirty-two thousand 
pounds upon the State. Vigorous measures were also 
taken to supply the troops with rations and clothing, in 
wliicli they were so deficient that the State brigade peti- 
tioned for relief. 

At the suggestion of Marchant, Congress resolved to 21. 
purchase six large vessels at Providence to be used as fire 
ships against the British fleet in the bay, and off'ered large 
rewards for the successful employment of them. This 
enterprise required the concurrence of the eastern navy 
board with the council of war in Phode Island, for which 
purpose the board were directed to repair to Providence. 

The distressed condition of the Rhode Island troops in 
the continental servi?ft, for want of proper clothing, ex- 
ceeded that of the State brigade, and threatened serious 
results. Gen. Yarnum, with Col. Angell's battalion, was 
stationed at Peekskill. Col. Greene's battalion was at 
Fort Montgomery. Col. Angell described his soldiers as 27. 
being without shoes, and otherwise so poorly clad, that 
half of them were unfit for any duty, and the regiment had 
become an object of derision wherever it appeared. This 
was a strong contrast to the Rhode Island " army of ob- 
servation," near Boston two years before, which was rep- 



CHAP, resented as the only perfectly appointed force in that 
motley Held. A nintinj broke out in Col. Greene's battal- 

1777. ion, of whom Gen. Yarnuni, who was called on to sup- 
press it, writes : " the naked situation of the troops when 
observed parading for duty is sufficient to extort the tears 
of compassion from every human being. There are not 
two in live who have a shoe, stocking, or so much as 
breeches to render them decent." Clothing had been 
repeatedly promised but did not arrive. The troops be- 
came furious, but were quieted by Gen. Yarnum, and soon 
received the relief provided at the recent session of the 

A new privateer of twenty guns, from Providence, 
attempting to get to sea, was chased ashore at Seaconnet, 
and burnt by the enemy. The fame of Barton, and the 
large rewards offered for prisoners, led to frequent attempts 
Sept. to surprise the enemy. Col. Cornell concealed a party on 
^' Prudence Island in tlie night, and early the next morning 
4. captured an officer and fifteen men who had landed from 
a frigate to procure water. Three of the enemy were 
killed in the skirmish, and on that night an officer and 
two men were taken on Phode Island by a party from 

The battle of Brandywine, in which Gen. Greene com- 
25. manded the reserve and covered the retreat, was followed 
by the loss of Philadelphia, upon which Congress removed 
to York, and again conferred extraordinary military 
powers upon Washington for four months. It being re- 
ported that the British troops had left Phode Island, Con- 
14. gress requested that the State brigade should march im- 
mediately to Peekskill ; but the rumor was false, and they 
19. could not be spared from home. The battle on Behmus 
Heights, near Stillwater, resulting in the defeat of Bur- 
goyne, almost retrieved the ruin wrought at the fatal field 
of Brandywine. 

17. To follow up this success another expedition was 
already planned to drive the enemy from Phode Island. 



Massachusetts had resolved to send tliree tlioiisand troops chap. 
and some artillery in addition to her two regiments now 
in Rhode Island, and the Assembly ordered half the 1777. 
militia of the State to he drafted for one month's service ^22^" 
from the first of October, to be formed into a brigade of 
six regiments, of which Col. Cornell was made brigadier ; 
the whole to be under command of Gen. Spencer.' 
The enemy's force on the island was reported by Gen. 23. 
Spencer to be nearly four tliousand men. There were 
four Hessian and three British regiments, two of each on 
Windmill Hill, a corps of grenadiers and light infantry 
at Fogland Ferry, one regiment on Butts Hill, and two 
near Newport. Connecticut resolved to send fifteen bun- 26. 
dred men to aid in the attempt to dislodge them. 

A varied fortune now attended the American arms. 
The battle of Germantown, in which Sullivan and Greene Oct. 4. 
led the attacking columns, and for awhile carried every 
thing before them, resulted in defeat, and on the same day 
an expedition from New York captured the forts on the 
Hudson River. But this success was of no avail to the ene- 
my at the northward. Recruits poured in to the army of 
Gen. Gates, while that of Burgoyne, cut off from supplies, 
was forced to offer battle at a point six miles from Sara- 
toga. Gen. Arnold assumed the lead. Gates not appear- 7. 
ing in. the field. The victory was decisive. The next 8. 
day was spent in skirmishes, and Burgoyne was obliged 
to fall back upon Saratoga. Cut off from all communica- 
tion with Ne^v York, and surrounded by a greatly su- 
perior and daily increasing force, he finally surrendered 17. 
with his whole army as prisoners of war. An official re- 
turn of the conquered army shows the exact number of 
prisoners to be five thousand eight hundred and sixty- 

^ This Assembly also, in conformity with a resolve of Congress against 
betting at horse-races, passed an Act, forbidding any bet to be made upon 
a horse-race, under a penalty of one hundred pounds, and forfeiture of the 



CHAP. The forces gathered for the attack on Rhode-island, 
amounted to about nme thousand men. A large number 
1777. of boats were collected at Tiverton under charge of Major 

^g*" Nathan Munro, but on the night fixed for the attack, 
some preparations remained incomplete. A storm delayed 
the attempt for three days, when it was renewed, but the 

19. wind proving unfavorable and some of the boats being 
seen and fired upon by the enemy, tlie attempt was again 
postponed four days, and the place of attack was changed 
to a point farther north, above Fogland Ferry. Again 

23. the weather proved unfavorable. These delays disaffected 
the troops, and many withdrew. Scarcely five thousand 

26. could be mustered on the last niglit assigned for the em- 
barcation. A council of ofiicers decided that it was inex- 
pedient to make the attempt, and the expedition was 
abandoned. Great dissatisfaction was felt at this futile 
result of so much preparation, and bitter complaints were 
made of the inefliciency of Spencer. 

22. But while this afifair was in progress, a brilliant action 
was fought at Redbank, a fort on the Jersey side of the 
Delaware River, whither the two Rhode Island regiments 

8. had been ordered after the battle of Germantown. Late 

22. in the afternoon. Count Donop, with a body of twelve 
hundred Hessians, snmmoned the fort to surrender. Col. 
Greene, who had concealed all but about fifty of his men 
when the ofiicer brouglit the summons, replied : " with 
these brave fellows this fort shall be my tomb." The 
garrison being too small to defend the entire works, half 
of the fort was abandoned, which aided the deception and 
gave confidence to the enemy. The assault instantly 
commenced, and the undefended portion of the fort was 
at once occupied by the enemy. But a terrible fire was 
poured upon them from the inner lines. Count Donop 
fell mortally wounded, and within forty minutes the Hes- 
sians were driven back with the loss of one-fourth of their 
number. Capt. Sylvanus Shaw, of Angell's battalion, 
was killed in this action. At the same time the British 



sliips opened a furious cannonade upon Fort Mifflin on chap- 
Mud Island, wliicli was gallantly defended by Col. Smith ^^"^ 
of Maryland. Ilazlewood, in command of the Pennsyl- 1777. 
vania Flotilla, and some Continental sliips, I'endered great 
service, and the next mornin^i: drove the enemy's lieet 
down the river, with the loss of a sixty -four gun ship and 
a frigate that were blown up. For this gallant defence, 
swords were voted l)y Congress to the three commanders, 
at the same time that a gold medal was voted to Gates 
for the surrender of Burgoyne. 

The Assembly appointed a committee to inquire into 
the cause of the failure of the late expedition against 
Rhode-island. Gen. Cornell presented a statement of the 
affair, and Gen. Spencer proposed that a joint committee 31. 
from the several States be called to inquire into the facts, 
and to provide for future operations. A court of inquiry 
was accordingly held at Providence, and at its close made 
a report, exonerating Spencer, and attributing the failure 
to a delay on the part of Palmer's brigade in not having 
their boats in readiness on the night first assigned for the 
attack, and to the unfavorable weather afterwards. 

The British ship Syren, of twenty-eight guns, ran ^• 
ashore at Point Judith, and was captured by the artillery 
at that station. Iler crew of a hundred and sixty-six 
officers and men were taken prisoners and carried to 

The two forts on the Delaware, Mercer at Pedbank, 
and Mifflin on Mud Island, which had been so nobly de- 
fended, were at length abandoned to the enemy, who 
being reinforced from New York, fortified Province 
Island, a low bank like Mud Island and almost contigu- 
ous to it, whence they opened an incessant fire upon Fort 10. 
Mifflin. Col. Smith was wounded the next day, and left H. 
the fort in command of Lieut. -Col. Pussell of Yarnum's 
brigade. Major Simeon Thayer volunteered to relieve 
Pussell, and led a detachment into the fort. Three hun- 12. 
dred men now composed the garrison under Major 



CHAP. Tliajer. The enemy's ships also took position to ruke the 
fort. The cannonade continued day and night. New 
1777. batteries were opened and more ships were brought into 

j^y* action, some so near tliat hand grenades were thrown 
from the round tops into the fort. Another such cannon- 
ade has never been known in America. The works were 
utterly destroyed, the cannon dismounted, and the men 
exposed to cross fires in all directions from the hostile 
ships and batteries. Nothing remained but to leave the 
fort, which was done that evening, and Major Thayer 
with the remnant of his heroic band, crossed over at mid- 
night to Fort Mercer. Cornwallis crossed the Delaware, 
with the design to attack Kedbank, but as that post was 

17. no longer tenable, it was evacuated, and three days after- 

20. wards the enemy took possession.' 

Congress adopted the plan of taxation, as suggested 
by the Springfield Convention, and recommended the 

22. States to raise five millions of dollars by that means, of 
which the sum assigned for Hhode Island to raise was one 

^ There has been a misunderstanding as to the sword voted to Colonel 
Smith for the defence of Fort Mifflin. That was for the action of October 
22-23, when Smith was in command, and was voted by Congress, November 
4th, a week before Smith, wounded at the second attack, resigned the post, 
and Major Thayer took the command. The three swords then voted were 
made in France, and nine years elapsed before they were received. The 
splendor of Thayer's defence, from the 12th to the 16th November, had 
justly eclipsed that of Smith in the former battle ; and when the swords 
came it was thought that Thayer should have received the Mifflin sword, and 
not Smith. In justice, Congress should afterwards have voted a sword to 
Thayer also, for his more brilliant defence in November, but Smith was en- 
titled to and received his sword at the same time with Greene and Hazlewood, 
(or their representatives,) for the action in October, in accordance with the 
vote of November 4th, passed a week before the second battle. Much feel- 
ing was excited at the time by this apparent oversight of Thayer by Congress, 
and the inaccuracy of later chroniclers has caused the impression that the 
sword was voted for a defence made by^ifThayer, and through an error of 
Congress was given to Smith. A careful attention to the dates above given 
will show the exact truth of the matter. The letters of General Varnum and 
Colonel Angell, with some further statements on this subject, and the vote of 
Congress of November 4th, are given in "Spirit of '76," pp. 295-304. 



Imndred tlioiisand dollars. Tliey also advised the confis- CIIAP. 
cation and sale of Tory estates, and ordered an inquiry .J^^ 
into the causes of the failure of the expedition against I'^^T. 
Rhode-island, which resulted very much as the inquiry j^^' 
at Providence had already done.' 

The Assembly, in accordance with a resolution of Con- 1. 
gress, appointed the eighteenth of December as a day of 
Thanksgiving. They also levied a tax of forty-eight 
thousand pounds upon the State. Washington went into 
winter quarters at Yalley Forge, where Howe attempted 5. 
to attack him, but after some skirmishing withdrew. 
The presence of the enemy on the island, and the large 
force kept in the field on that account, caused a great 
scarcity of provisions in this State, so that persons were ^q. 
sent into Connecticut to purchase them. The articles of 
confederation prepared by Congress having been received, 
together with a recommendation to the northern States to 
hold a convention at Xew Haven to regulate prices, the 
council of war advised that the Assembly be convened to 
consider these important subjects. Before it met, the 
arrival of the British fleet from the Delaware to winter at 
Xewport caused great alarm. An attack on Providence 
was expected, many people left the place, and the council 
of war, which sat daily in the recess of the Assembly, got 
ready the beacon and notified the surrounding country to 18. 
prepare for defence. 

The Assembly sat at Providence four days. William 19-22. 
Greene and Jabez Bowen were appointed commissioners 
to meet with those of the other States at Xew Haven ac- 
cording to the recommendation of Congress. The term 
of enlistment for the State brigade was to expire in March, 
the recruiting service proceeded but slowly, and the ranks 
were by no means full. Tlie Assembly resolved to raise 
a brigade of fifteen hundred men, the quota assigned by 
the Springfield Convention, to serve for a year from the 

^ See Journals of Congress, iii. 571. General Spencer resigned on 21st 
December, and his resignation was accepted 13th January, 1778. 


CHAP, coming Mai'cli. This was in fact a re-enlistment of so 
^5^^ many of the existing force as chose to serve, over whom 

1777. Gen. Cornell was made brigadier, with but few changes 
in the field officers.^ 

1778. The British had also organized a corps of Tories upon 
the island, known as the Loyal Newport Associators. 
What was the number of this force, or of how many com- 
panies it consisted, we do not know. The officers of one 

Jan.l. company, appointed by Major-General Pigot, are all 
whose names we have been able to ascertain." It was 
2* proposed by Gen. Yarnum to Washington, that the two 
Rhode Island battalions in camp at Yalley Forge should 
be united, and that the officers of one. Col. Greene, Lieut.- 
Col. Olney, and Major Ward, with their subalterns, be 
sent to Rhode Island to enlist a battalion of negroes for 
the continental service. The plan was approved and the 
officers were sent home for that purpose. So great were 
the suiferings of the refugees from Newport, that an ap- 
8. peal on their behalf was made to the country through the 
press. There were two hundred and fifty of these persons 
then in Providence with no means of support. The same 
liberality which three years before had been shown to the 
poor of Boston was extended to their relief. 

Congress earnestly recommended the New England 
States to keep up the force in Rhode Island agreed u|)on 

^ Of the 1st battalion, the officers now chosen were CoL Archibald Crary, 
Lieutenant-colonel John Topham, Major James Williams ; of the 2d, Colonel 
William Barton, Lieutenant-colonel Nathaniel Hawkins; Major of Brigade, 
John Handy ; of artillery. Colonel Robert EUiot, Major Josiah Flagg. Upon 
Colonel Barton's receiving a commission as colonel in the Continental ser- 
vice. Colonel John Topham was appointed to the 2d battalion. Major Wil- 
liams was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel, and Christopher Manchester 
was made major ; Samuel Phillips was made major of Colonel Topham's reg- 

Sabine's History of American Loyalists refers to this subject, page 63, 
and says there were possibly three companies. The officers of one com- 
pany, who were appointed by Pigot, January 1, I'Z'ZS, were Joseph Durfee, 
captain, vice Simeon Pease deceased, Giles Stanton, 1st lieutenant, John 
Thurston, jr., 2d lieutenant. 



at the Springfield Convention, and advised tlie teiupurtuy CIIAP. 
appointment of the necessary general officers for that pur- 
pose/ They also accepted the resignation of Gen. Spen- 1778. 
cer, to take effect on the arrival of his successor. The 
convention of delegates from the eight northern States 
met at New Haven, and agreed upon a scale of prices for 15. 
labor and produce, to be enacted by the legislatures, to 
take effect in Marcli. This was the third eflbrt of the 
kind which failed of its object. Massachusetts refused to 
pass the act, and Congress ultimately abandoned the un- 
wise and fruitless scheme. 

Early in February, New Providence became again the Feb. 
scene of a daring enterprise in which Rhode Island took a 
leading ^^art. The U. S. sloop Providence, of twelve 
guns, Capt. John Patlibone, landed a party of thirty men 
under Lieut. John Trevett of Newport, who with fifteen 
men scaled the walls at night, and took the fort. The 
remainder of the force, with some prisoners who joined 
them, seized a small island opposite the town. They held 
possession for three days, captured six vessels in the har- 
bor, drove off a British sloop-of-war that attempted to 

^ Under this recommendation, Solomon Southwick was appointed by the 
Assembly in February to be deputy commissary-general of issues. Major- 
general N. Greene, at the earnest solicitation of Washington, took the re- 
sponsible position of quartermaster-general of the Continental army, in March, 
and under him, Thomas Greene was made deputy quartermaster-general, in 
this State, and was succeeded in the autumn of this year by Ephraim 
Bowen, jr. John Reynolds was agent clothier for Rhode Island — a delicate 
and difficult post in the embarrassed state of the service, and Nathaniel 
Mumford was State clothier for the troops. Asa Waterman, of Norwich, 
Connecticut, was deputy commissary-general of purchases for Rhode Island, 
appointed in May. Nathaniel Norton was forage master, appointed by 
General SuUivan in September. The accounts of all these officers in the 
StafT department of the army, not directly appointed by Congress, were ex- 
amined by a committee of the General Assembly, in September, 1779, in 
accordance with a resolve of Congress. The proceedings of this committee, 
which met September 29, 1779, and adjourned from time to time, are pre- 
served in Foster Papers, volume ii. 

Caleb Harris was director of the powder mill in this State. Benjamin 
Stelle was made assistant paymaster, in March, 1778. 



CHAP, enter the port, and having spiked the guns, brought away 
^^^^ a quantity of military stores without the loss of a man. 
1778. Gen. Greene applied to Washington for the appoint- 
ment at Rhode Island, to succeed Spencer, but his services 
could not be spared from the camp. He then suggested 
that the Rhode Island troops be sent home to defend their 
State, a measure whicli was also urged by Gen. Yarnum, 
and which was conceded somewhat later. 

An all-important event now occurred in Europe. The 
negotiations at Paris terminated in the signing of the 
6. treaty of alliance between France and the United States. 
The independence of America was thus acknowledged by 
the great rival of Britain, and substantial aid to the cause 
of liberty was soon to he rendered by the French monarch. 
9' Tlie Assembly, acting upon the suggestion of Yarnum, 

approved by Washington, resolved to raise a regiment of 
slaves, who were to be freed upon their enlistment, and 
their owners to be paid by the State according to the 
valuation of a committee. One hundred and twenty 
pounds was the limit of value allowed by the act. Six 
deputies protested against this act on the ground that 
there were not enough slaves to make an efiective regi- 
ment, that the measure would be disapproved abroad, that 
the expense would be greater, and the owners be dissatis- 
fied with the indemnity offered by the State. The articles 
of Confederation were accepted. The delegates in Con- 
gress were instructed to obtain certain modifications if 
possible, but in any event to sign the articles. The pro- 
posed amendments related to the number of representa- 
tives, that one might sufiice in certain cases ; to the mode 
of taxation, that an estimate be made every five years; 
and to the public lands, that they should be proportion- 
ably distributed among the States. A tax of thirty-two 
thousand pounds was assessed, and a bill establishing an 
oath of allegiance to the State was referred to the people 
in their town meetings for instructions to their deputies 
thereupon. This measure was so strenuously opposed, 



on account of the position in wliicli it might involve tlie ciIAP. 
Quakers, that the bill never was reported.' 

The frigate Warren, Capt. John B. Hopkins, having 1778. 
long waited a favorable opportunity to elude the enemy 
and get to sea, at length effected this object during a 
snowstorm, sailing through the blockading fleet and firing 
broadsides as she ^^assed, but receiving no damage from 
the enemy's fire. 

The supposed discovery of a silver mine in Cumber- 
land promised an unexpected relief from the burdens of 
taxation caused by the war. A petition to the Assembly 
for certain facilities in working the mine was referred to 
a committee to examine the premises, but the hopes thus 
raised proved fallacious. 

The frigate Columbus, Capt. Iloysted Hacker, less 
fortunate than the Warren, in attempting to get to sea, 
was chased on shore at Point Judith, and the next day 28. 
was burnt by the enemy. Gen. Burgoyne, having ob- 
tained leave of Congress to proceed to England, embarked April 
at Newport. His army, wdiich since the surrender had 
been quartered at Cambridge, was sent into Yermont. 
Gen. Sullivan, appointed by Washington to succeed Spen- 
cer, arrived at Providence, and was at once invested by IT. 
the council of war with the supreme command in Rhode 
Island. The arrival at Boston of the treaty of Paris, was 19, 
the occasion of great rejoicings. When the news reached 
Providence, national salutes were fired from the battery 21. 
at Fox Point, and from the frigate Providence, which 
were repeated at sunset with a military display. The 
next day was a public fast throughout the country, re- 22 
commended by Congress in March, but wherever this 
news had reached, it became an occasion of thanksgiving. 

The suff'erings of the army at Yalley Forge, have too 
often been depicted to require more than a simple refer- 

^ The sentiments of the freemen of Providence upon the proposed bill 
are contained in an ably-written paper, presented at their town meeting, on 
9th March, 1778, preserved in Foster Papers, vol. ii. 


CHAP, ence in tliis place. So great was the want of clotliiiig, 
3^ that the march of the armj to their quarters in Deceni- 
1778. her, was literally tracked with blood upon the snow drifts. 
^1^'"^^ Sickness was a natui-al result. The Rhode Island troops 
suffered more than anj others from this cause, owing to 
their deficiency of clothing, which, although it was sup- 
plied as fast as possible from home, often came too late. 
20 Lieut. John "W^aterman, commissary of the brigade, died 
at this time, and Lieutenant William Jennings a month 
later, both of small-pox. The treatment of prisoners by 
the British, was such as to call forth the strongest remon- 
strances from AYashington. The prison-ships at Newport 
were full of these unhappy yictims. The council of war 

24. appointed Col. Barton to convey to them supplies, and to 
inquire into their condition and numbers. The next day 

25. he proceeded in a cartel vessel upon his errand of mercy, 
to visit the shij^s, jail, and hospital. 

The French alliance at once changed the tone of the 
British cabinet. Measures of conciliation were proposed, 
which were indignantly rejected in America. Two bills, 
hastily drawn and but once read in the House of Com- 
mons, were sent over to the British commanders, and 
commissioners were despatched to negotiate with Con- 
gress to close the war — but upon a basis of dependence. 
It is not our 2>rovince to follow this subject farther than to 
notice the recej^tion of these bills in Rhode Island. Gen. 
Pigot enclosed a draught of them to Gen. Sullivan in a 
letter, wherein he stated " that the terms offered the 
rebels were more generous than they could, or had reason 
to expect from the hands of his most merciful master.'' 
The measures were ill-timed and the letter was insulting. 
Tlie exasperated populace ordered the bills to be burnt by 

28. the hands of the common hangman, which was immediate- 
ly done.' The frigate Providence, Capt. Whipple, dur- 

30. ing a dark and stormy night, forced her way through the 

^ Pennsylvania Gazette, of May 23, 1778. Letters and Papers, 1777- 
1780, p. 26, No. 2, in Massachusetts Historical Society. 



hostile fleet in tlie same darintz; manner that the Warren CHAT', 
had done, ponring hroadsides into the Britisli sliips, and 
sinking one of their tenders.' Capt. Wliipple was bonnd 1778. 
to France with important despatches relating to the new 
treaty, and after a successful voyage returned in safety to 

Gov. Cooke, wearied by the cares of his responsible May 6. 
position, now retired from office. William Greene, son 
of the late Gov. Greene, w^as chosen to the place, and con- 
tinued to occupy it for eight successive years. Jabez 
Bowen was elected deputy-governor. It illustrates the 
simple manners, as well as the physical vigor of the men 
of revolutionary times, that Gov. Greene, although pos- 
sessed of an ample fortune, was accustomed two or three 
times a week, during the sessions of Assembly at Provi- 
dence, to walk up from Warwick, or we might say from 
Greenwich, as he resided on the dividing line of the two 
towns, and home again in the afternoon. Four delegates, 
Hopkins, Ellery, Marchant, and John Collins, were chosen 
to represent the State in Congress. The object of this 
was, that as the articles of confederation required each 
State to have at least two delegates in that body, the ill 
ness or absence of one or more members might not leave 
the State without a vote in the national councils. 

Gen. Howe resigned the command of the British army 
to Sir Henry Clinton, and returned to England. Gen. 
Pigot, anticipating another attempt upon the island, sent 
up the river about six hundred men, under Lieut. -Col. 
Campbell, to destroy a number of boats then collected in 
Kickemuit River, east of Warren. Landing at daylight 
a little below^ the to\Mi, they entered Warren, and march- 
ing across to Kickemuit, burnt seventy flat-boats, the gal- 
ley AVashington, and a grist mill. Returning to Warren 
they set Are to the town, destroying the Baptist church, 

^ Jonathan Pitcher, of Rhode Island, Avas 1st lieutenant of the Provi- 
dence, and William Jones, afterwards Governor of Rhode Island, was cap- 
tain of marines. Benjamin Page was also a lieutenant. 
• VOL. II. — Go 



CHAP, with seA^eral other buildings, blew up the magazine, pil- 
^^^^ laged the houses, and carrying away many prisoners, pro- 
1778. ceeded to Bristol, where the work of destruction was re- 
sumed/ A portion of Col. Crary's regiment, quartered 
in the town, retreated. Had they made a stand at the 
bridge, Bristol would have been saved, for Campbell had 
orders, in case of resistance, not to force an entrance. Tlie 
Episcopal church and eighteen dwellings were burnt, the 
people were plundered, and some forty persons, including 
a j^icket guard of nine men under Capt. Westcott at Pap- 
poosquash Point, were taken. The whole town would 
have been destroyed had not the troops rallied and at- 
tacked the enemy. An express had been sent off to Gen. 
Sullivan at Providence for aid. Col. Barton, with about 
twenty horsemen, hastened on in advance to harass the 
retreating foe, and if possible to detain them till the main 
body could arrive. Collecting some two hundred volun- 
teers on the way, he attacked the enemy near Bristol 
Ferry, and was severely wounded in the leg. The British 
reached their boats at the ferry, and embarked before a 
sufficient force arrived to prevent their retreat. The Brit- 
ish loss in this skirmish was never ascertained, but from 
the marks of blood along the road was supposed to be 
considerable. The Americans had four men wounded. 
The undefended condition of the State at this moment, 
2C. had favored the expedition. Gen. Sullivan writes that he 
had not five hundred men at his command, and that there 
were less than two hundred from the other New England 
States. A special session of the Assembly was held in 
28. consequence of this alarming event. To hll the ranks of 
the State brigade, eight hundred and thirty-nine men 
were ordered to be raised, and one-sixth part of the mili- 
tia and chartered force of the State was called out for fif- 
teen days. The circulation of State bills of credit was 

^ An amusing story of the capture of a drummer who had lagged in 
the rear, by a party of the heroic women of Warren, is told in Fessenden's 
History of Warren, p. 94, note. 

attp:mpt on fall river. 


prohibited after July first. The amount outstanding was CIIAP. 
to be exchanged for Loan office certificates as far as possi- 3-^^ 
ble, and the balance to be redeemed by notes of the State 1778. 
treasurer. "^^'"'^ 

The enemy soon made an attempt upon Fall Ili\ er. 31. 
A pai'ty of one hundred and fifty men landed at day- 
break and burnt a mill and house by tlie shore, but were 
prevented from proceeding further by the resolute con- 
duct of Col. Joseph Durfee, who, with twenty -five men, 
taking a strong position near the bridge, and being rein- 
forced by some militia, drove them back after a sharp 
action of an hour and a half. The British left two men 
on the field. Two of the enemy's vessels, a galley and a 
sloop, in attempting to cover their retreat, were driven on 
to the Khode-island shore and abandoned. 

A severe coi-respondence now ensued between Generals June 
Sullivan and Pigot, respecting the prisoners taken at ^' 
Bristol. Sullivan represented the conduct of the enemy 
in that afifair, and in their treatment of j^risoners gener- 
ally, in its true light, as an outrage upon the Christian 
name, and as provocative of that retaliation from which 
the Americans had hitherto refrained. He wished to 
know upon what terms the captives could be released. 
Pigot replied, ofi'erino- an exchange upon the usual terms, 10. 
and saying that if it was not eff'ected at once, they would 
be sent to ^^ew Yoi-k. 

The commissioners appointed by Parliament to con- 
ciliate America, addressed a letter to Congress, enclosing 
the bills so hastily passed for that purpose. Congress 
replied very briefly, returning the papers, and refusing to 17. 
treat upon any other terms than those of absolute inde- 
l^endence. The next day the British army evacuated is. 
Philadelphia, and Gen. Arnold, with a division from 
Yalley Forge, entered it on the following day. Congress, 19. 
acting upon advices from Gen. Sullivan and Gov. Greene, 
directed Washington to send home the Ehode Island 25. 
troops, if they could be spared, and empowered the Xavy 



CHAP. Board to provide three galleys for the defence of ProA'i- 
denee, "VVarren, and Taunton Kivers. The whole army 
1778. had already moved from Yalley Forge to attack the Brit- 
'^^"^ ish in their retreat across New Jersey. Coming up with 

28. the rear guard near Monmouth, a battle ensued, which, 
notwithstanding the disobedience of Lee, w^ho commanded 
the American advance, in ordering a retreat, resulted, 
after several hours of hard fighting, in a decisive, although 
not brilliant victory. In this action Gen. Greene com- 
manded the right wing, and the Bhode Island regiments, 
which suffered the loss of Lieutenant Nathan Wickes, and 
several men, were in Lee's division. Lee was placed 
under arrest by AVashington. Two months afterwards he 
was tried by court-martial and suspended for one year, 
and soon after the expiration of this sentence, he w^as dis- 
missed from the service by Congress. On the same day 
with the battle of Monmouth, Louis XYI. issued orders 
for the seizure of British vessels, w^hence we may date the 
commencement of the war in Europe. 

29. In pursuance of a resolve of Congress, the Assembly 
laid an embargo upon provisions, to prevent their expor- 
tation. They also levied a tax of thirty-tw^o thousand 
pounds, which included seventy-five hundred pounds, or 
one-fourth of the State's portion of the Continental tax 
recommended by Congress to be raised in quarterly in- 
stalments for the war service of the present year. 

j^jjy The arrival of the French fleets off' the Capes of Dela- 
10. ware, was heralded throughout the country as glorious 
12. news." On the following Sunday " the most interesting 
interview that ever took place in America,' or pei'haps in 
the world," was had between Monsieur Gerard, the French 
Plenipotentiary, and the American Congress. At the 
same time, British reinforcements began to arrive at New- 
15. port. A fleet of transports brouglit three thousand men 
and sailed again to New York for four thousand more. 

^ Letter of H. Marchatit, member of Congress, to Governor Greene, 14th 
July, 1778. Foster Correspondence, volume i. 



An attack on Providence was daily expected. The enemy CIIAP. 
now had seven thousand men on the island, while to op- ^^^^ 
pose them, Sullivan writes that but sixteen hundred 1778. 
troops were in the field, and the other New England '^22^ 
States still neglected to send their quotas. The council 
of war called out one-half of the effective force of the 29. 
State to serve for twenty days froni the first of August, 
and ordered the remainder to be ready to take the field at 
a moment's warning. On the same day. Count D'Estaing, 
with twelve ships-of-the-line and four frigates' arrived off 
Newport, and blockaded the enemy. The next morning, 
two French ships-of-the-line sailed up to the north end of 
Conanicut. The British garrison on that island withdrew 
to Newport, and their ships sought refuge in the harbor. 
Three British vessels, the Kingfisher of sixteeen guns, and 
two galleys, were blown up in the east passage, or Sea- 
connet Biver, on the approach of two other French ships. 
Major-General Greene arrived at home from the army, 
and was followed by Brig.-Gen. Glover, both of whom 
volunteered for the approaching expedition. The marquis 
de Lafayette soon offered his services in the same cause. 2. 
Two Continental brigades, Yarnum's and Glover's, with 
two companies of artillery from the army at White Plains, 
arrived the next day. Four British frigates and a corvette 
were run ashore on Bhode-island and burnt, upon the ap- ^• 
pearance of a portion of the French fleet in the middle 

^ These were ships-of-the-line, Languedoc, Tonnant, Cesar, Zele, Hector, 
Guerrier, Marseillois, Protecteur, Vailhint, Provence, Fantasque, Sagittaire ; 
frigates, Chimere, Engageante, Aimable, Alcmene. The venerable Thomas 
Coggeshall, who died in Newport in 1851, February 2d, in his 92d year, was a 
lad working on his father's farm at the time of the landing of the British. 
He, with many others, was forced to work for the enemy nearly three years in 
driving a team. At this time, all the teams were employed in carting stores 
from " the point" to Brinley's rope-walk on the hill, " One day (29th July, 
1778) the officers came down from the hill, and by their actions it was 
evident that something important was in their knowledge, and when we 
got to the top of the hill with our loads, we saw far off the fleet of Count 
d'Estaing — darmH laugh — not ihen^'' said Mr, C, in narrating to the writer, 
some ten years since, the events of this important day. 



CHAP, passage.' Several other vessels were at the same time 
burnt by the enemy in and near Newport harbor, to avoid 
1778. capture, and others were sunk to obstruct the passage, 
-^g^* Yolunteers began to pour in from the neighboring States, 

7. and Gen. Sullivan proceeded to the camp at Tiverton to 
take command. D'Estaing, with twelve ships-of-the-line, 
under a heavy cannonade from the British batteries, en- 

8. tered the harbor of Newport to co-operate with the 
American army. The British then destroyed their two 

9. remaining ships.^ The next morning Gen. Sullivan, with 
about ten thousand troops, began to cross from Tiverton 
to the north end of Rhode-island, and the French troops 
destined for his support were disembarked upon Con ani- 
ent. On the same evening, Lord Howe, with thirty -six 
sail, of which thirteen were ships-of-the-line and seven 
frigates, appeared off Point Judith. It had been agreed 
that D'Estaing should land four thousand men on the 
west side of Rhode-island to co-operate with Sullivan, but 
this event deranged the entire plan. That night the 

10. French troops were embarlved, and the next morning 
D'Estaing, eager for battle, put to sea. Sullivan took 
possession of the forts at the north part of the island, 
which were abandoned by the enemy. The British 
retired within their lines about three-fourths of a mile 
from NewjDort, burning all the houses for a mile or more 
to the north and east of the " two mile corner." A strong 
detachment, composed of light troops, independent com- 
panies, and a corps of fifty men from each brigade, under 
Col. Livingston, advanced within a mile and a half of the 

II hostile lines, and orders were given for the whole army to 
push forward the next morning. The right wing was 

^ These were the Lark, Orpheus, and Juno, 32s; Cerberus, 28, and 
Falcon, 16. 

These were, the Grand Duke, transport, of 40 guns, burnt ; and the 
frigate Flora, 32, sunk. Tho prize money awarded by the French Govern- 
ment for the destruction of all the British vessels was 600 livres per gun, 
and the number of guns thus taken was 212. A livre was worth at that time 
two-thirds of a dollar 



commanded by Maj.-Gen. Greene, tlie left by Gen. Lafa- chap. 
yette, tlie second line of Massachusetts militia by Maj.- 
Gen. Hancock, late President of Congress, and the reserve 1778. 
by Col. West. A terrible storm, one of the most violent ^^^^^ 
gales upon record, arose that niglit and lasted for two 
days. The opposing squadrons, having spent one day in 
manoeuvring for the weather gage, were about coming 
to action wlien this gale dispersed them. Some attempted 
to fight in tlie midst of the hurricane, but the damage by 
storm was greater than that of battle. The ships w^ere 
scattered. The Languedoc, the Admiral's flag-ship, and 
the Tonnant were dismasted, and all were more or less 
disabled. On shore the fury of the tempest was no less 
dreadful. The tents were prostrated, and the army, ex- 
posed on the wet ground to a cold and drenching rain, 
sufl'ered severely. Some of the men died from exposure, 
and a great number of horses perished. The ammunition 
was much damaged, some of it entirely spoiled, but the 
injury from this cause proved to be less than was at first 

When the storm had abated, the French fleet captured 15. 
two of the British cruisers,^ and repelled the attacks of the 
Renown and the Preston, fifty-gun ships, upon the two 
dismasted vessels, but nothing was heard from either 
squadron for several days. In the early morning, Sulli- 
van advanced with his whole army, and at two o'clock en- 
camped within two miles of the enemy's lines, which ex- 
tended from Tonomy Hill to Easton's Pond, near the 
beach. The same mght a detachment occupied Honey- 
man's Hill, on the enemy's right, within half a mile of 
their front line of works on Bliss's Hill, which it commands. 
Entrenchments were throw^n up during the night, and for 
five days, in the course of which several other batteries i(3_2o 
were erected at difterent points, a heavy cannonade was 
kept up along the lines, and the enemy were compelled to 

' The Senegal, sloop of war, and the Carcass, bombketch. 



CHAP, evacuate one of the outworks upon tlieir left neai- the 
i^L bay. 

1778. Meanwhile the council of war called out the remaining 
half of the effective force of the State to supply the loss of 
the French auxiliaries, and the deficiency in the quota of 
troops expected from the neighboring States. By a letter 

18. from Gen. Sullivan, it appears that at this moment there 
were of rank and file under his command, but about six- 
teen hundred men from this State, and fourteen hundred 
from Massachusetts, while three thousand had been ex- 
pected from each, and but four hundred from Connecticut, 
out of fifteen hundred that were promised ; but the 
" spirited resolves " of the council of war, as he terms 
them in his next letter, restored the general's confidence 
in the success of his plans. An embargo, which continued 
for one w^eek, was laid upon all vessels, in order that their 
crowds might serve in the expedition. 

20- The return of the French fleet, although in a dilapi- 
dated condition, gave a momentary joy to the besieging 
army, who now felt certain of capturing the w^hole British 
force w^ithin forty-eight hours. Sullivan sent Greene and 
Lafayette to persuade D'Estaing to co-operate 'in tlie re- 
duction of Newport. Great was the consternation, wiien^ 

21. the next day, the Admiral announced his intention to pro- 
ceed immediately to Boston to refit, and actually sailed 
at nightfall. The American oflicers drew up a protest 
against his departure at such a crisis. Lafayette refused 

22. to sign the paper. A fast vessel was despatched to over- 
take the fleet and deliver the protest to D'Estaing. Con- 
gress submitted the papers relating to the affair to Gerard, 
with a request to know his opinion upon it. In the posi- 
tion which the United States then held towards France, 
this proceeding was as politic as it was singular, for al- 
though every effort w^as made to suppress tlie protest, it 
could not fail to come to the knowledge of the Minister.^ 

^ In the secret despatch of Gerard to the Comte de Vergennes, in which 
tliis Protest is severely handled, while the conduct of Congress, in promptly 



So great was tlie scarcity of provisions at this time, CHAP, 
that there were hundreds of peoj)le in Providence without ^^^^ 
bread or the means of obtaining it, and corn was sold at 1778. 
eiglit dollars a bushel. 'Nor could vessels be sent to bring 
flour on account of the embargo, until the pressing wants 
of the population required it to be repealed. Great dis- 25. 
satisfaction now pervaded the camp, and desertions be- 
came frequent. Half of the l^ew Hampshire volunteers, 
writes one of their officers, had already gone, and the rest 26. 
could not be induced to remain. The siege had mean- 
while been pressed with vigor, and the enemy had aban- 
doned all their outworks except one. It was Sullivan's 27. 
intention to storm the works, but the army, by the with- 
drawal of the volunteers, was found to be reduced to only 
fifty-four hundred men. It was therefore determined in 28. 
council, to fall back upon the fortified hills at the north, 
and there await the return of the French fleet, to hasten 
which, Lafayette proceeded to Boston. Nearly three 
thousand volunteers, supposing that nothing would be 
done till the return of the French, had left within twenty- 
four hours, and others were still leaving. The retreat 
commenced in the evening, and by two o'clock that night, 
the army encamped on Butts Flill, the right wing on the 
west road, and the left on the east road, with covering 
j)arties on each flank. Col. Livingston's light corps was 
stationed on the east road, and another under Col. Lau- 
rens, Col. Fleury, and Major Talbot, on the west road, 
each three miles in front of the camp, and in their rear 
was the picquet of the army under Col. Wade. 

Early the next morning the British forces marched out 29. 
in two columns by the two roads, and at seven o'clock the 
attack commenced. The American light corps were sup- 
ported by the picquet. A series of severe skirmishes 
ensued, and a regiment was sent to reinforce each of the 

furnishing him with all the papers pertaining to it, is highly applauded, 
the Minister closes the subject with the sententious remark — " Malhcureuse- 
nient, ce pays est peuple de tetes exaltees." 



CHAP, two corps, with orders for tliem to retire upon the main 
body, which they did in excellent order. One account 

1778. attributes to Major Talbot the commencement of the ac- 
tion, on the west road. Another, more circumstantial, 
states that the first desperate stand was made at a cross 
road connecting the two main roads, near tlieGibbs place, 
about five and a half miles from Newport, where a mid- 
dle road, parallel to the two and very near the east road, 
extends northward from the cross road. A broad field, 
enclosed by stone walls, occupies the space between the 
east and middle roads, and is bounded on the south by 
the cross road. Here the twenty-second British regiment, 
Col. Campbell, which had advanced by the east road, 
divided, and one half of it turned to the left into the cross 
road. A portion of tlie American picket w^as concealed 
in this field, and the divided twenty-second fell into the 
ambuscade. A scene of fearful slaughter ensued. Short, 
sharp, and deadly was the struggle. The Americans, 
leaping from behind the Avails, poured a storm of bullets 
into the very face of the astonished foe, and before their 
bewildered enemy could recover from the shock, they had 
reloaded, and with another sheet of fire, completed the 
work of death. Nearly one-fourth part of the ill-fated 
twenty-second were cut down by this murderous assault. 
Two Hessian regiments came up to their support, but the 
Americans had already retreated, according to orders. 
An attack was now made upon the American left wing, 
but the enemy were repulsed by Gen. Glover, and retreat- 
ed to their works on Quaker Hill. 

The Hessian columns were formed upon a chain of 
highland, extending northward from this hill. The 
American army was drawn up in three lines ; the first in 
front of their works on Butt's Hill, the second in rear of 
the hill, and the reserve near a creek about half a mile in 
the rear of the first line. The distance between Butt's 
and Quaker Plill is about one mile, with marshy meadow 
and woodland between. 



About nine o'clock a heavy cannonade commenced, chap. 
and continued throughout the day. For the next liour 
there was constant skirmishing among the advanced par- 1778. 
ties, until two British ships of war and some light armed '29^'" 
vessels, coming up the bay, opened a fire upon the right 
flank of the Americans, under cover of which the enemy 
made a desperate eflbrt to turn the flank and storm an 
advanced redoubt on the American right. The action 
now became general along that portion of the line. For 
nearly seven hours the battle raged with but little inter- 
mission, but for the first hour after the British ships began 
to fire, while the attempt to turn the American flank was 
made, the conflict was at its height. The carnage was 
frightful. Down the slope of Anthony's Hill, a western 
continuation of Quaker Hill, the Hessian columns and 
British infantry twice rushed to the assault and were re- 
pulsed in the valley with great slaughter. Sixty were 
found dead in one spot. At another, thirty Hessians w^ere 
buried in one grave. Major-Gen. Greene commanded on 
the right. Of the four brigades under his immediate 
command, Yarnum's, Glover's, Cornell's, and Greene's, all 
sufl'ered severely, but Gen. Yarnum's perhaps the most. 
A third time the enemy, w^ith desperate courage and in- . 
creased strength, attempted to assail the redoubt, and 
would have carried it but for the timely aid of two con- 
tinental battalions despatched by Sullivan to support his 
almost exhausted troops. It was in repelling these furi- 
ous onsets, that the newly raised black regiment, under 
Col. Greene, distinguished itself by deeds of desperate 
valor. Posted behind a thicket in the valley, they three 
times drove back the Hessians who charged repeatedly 
down the hill to dislodge them ; and so determined were 
the enemy in these successive charges, that the day after 
the battle the Hessian colonel, upon whom this duty had 
devolved, applied to exchange his command and go to 
New York, because he dared not lead his regiment again 



CHAP, to battle, lest his men should shoot him for having caused 
them so much loss. 

1778. While this furious conflict was in progress on the Brit- 
isli left, Gen. Lo veil's brigade of Massachusetts militia, 
was ordered to engage their right and rear, which was 
done with complete success. The ships of war also were 
driven off by the well-served guns of two heavy batteries 
that were brought to bear upon them. The desperate 
courage of the enemy availed them nothing against the 
equally resolute valor of the Americans. They at last 
gave way, and retreated to their fortified camp on Quaker 
Hill, closely followed by the victors who captured Brady's 
battery upon the hill. Sullivan desired to attack them 
in their works ; but the army had now been for thirty-six 
hours without rest or food, and continually on the march, 
at labor, or in battle. The assault was therefore aban- 
doned, and both armies occupied their camps in the after- 
noon, although the cannonade was continued until night. 
A return of the killed, woimded, and missing, shows the 
w^iole loss of the Americans in the action to be two hun- 
dred and eleven. That of the British was at first sup- 
posed to be about seven hundred, but was afterwards 
found to amount to one thousand and twenty-three, in- 
cluding those taken prisoners. 

When we consider that of the five thousand Ameri- 
cans engaged in this battle, only about fifteen hundred 
had ever before been in action, and that they were op- 
posed by veteran troops superior both in numbers and 
discipline, with a degree of obstinacy rarely equalled in 
the annals of warfare, we can understand the remark said 
to have been made by Lafayette in speaking of the battle 
on Khode-island that " it was the best fought action of 
the war." ' 

^ In addition to the authorities enumerated in the note at the close of 
chapter xx., there are some new ones consulted in the present chapter 
which should be mentioned. These are chiefly the Journals of the Council 
of War in Rhode Island, in four manuscript volumes, and dociinients ob- 



tained in the French Archives at Paris by tlic writer in 1847. These are de- CHAP, 
spatches from M. Gerard to the Cornte de Vergennes ; the journal of an officer XXI. 
on board Le Languedoc, the flag ship of the Count d'Estaing ; the Admiral's 
report to his Government, made December 5, 1779 ; and copious extracts 
from papers relating to prizes taken, and to the expenses and operations 
of the fleet. All these are to be found in " Le Ministere de la Marine etdes 
Colonies ; Archives Personnel, E. Estaing (Le Cornte de)." The liberality 
of the French Government, under all regimes, in allowing to historical 
students, when pioperly presented, free access to its archives, has often 
been remarked, and the author can bear testimony to its truth, and to the 
courteous alacrity of gentlemen connected with the various public offices in 
aiding his researches. Some details, relating to the French fleet, gathered 
from these researches, which are not mentioned in the text, may here be 
noted. Nine prizes were taken by D'Estaing, and sold in Providence. The 
net proceeds of these sales, in Continental currency, was $437,955. Besides 
the hospital at Bristol Ferry, there was one also for a short time at Kingston. 
The expenses of these establishments, including the transportation of the sick 
to Boston in 1778, were $57,573. The pilots who biought the fleet from 
New York to Newport, in July, received 300 livres each. The larger ves- 
sels had two pilots. French money was reckoned in livres tournois, soldi, 
and derniers. 12 Derniers = 1 soldo, and 20 soldi = 1 livre tournois, 
valued in October, 1778, at lO^d, sterling, when sterling exchange was at 
£4, New England currency, for £1 sterling. The loss of the French squad- 
ron in the campaign of 1778 was 53 killed, of whom were 3 officers and 23 
soldiers ; and 99 wounded, of whom were 3 officers and 47 soldiers, besides 
the crew of a prize brig lost at sea. 

The writer also received much valuable information from several aged 
men — all of whom were witnesses, and some were actors in the scenes herein 
described; from John Howland, late president of the Rhode Island Histori- 
cal Society ; from Thomas Hornsby and Thomas Coggeshall, of Newport ; 
Asa Freeborn, and Seth Anthony, of Portsmouth ; with whom (in company 
with the late Dr. John W. Richmond, who for many years resided at Ports- 
mouth, and was intimate with these and other participators and witnesses 
of the campaign of 1778) the writer conversed, he obtained much that was 
interesting respecting this period. The notes of these conversations, chiefly 
had in 1849, he has carefully preserved. The author desires to make this 
acknowledgment as a tribute to the memory of these venerable men, all of 
whom have since been gathered to the grave. (See Appendix P., for official 
report of the battle, etc.) 






CHAP. The morninof after the battle, Sullivan received ad- 
XXII . . 

,1,1^^ vices from Gen. Wasliington, that Lord Howe was ap- 
1778. preaching with five thousand troops for the relief of New- 
^3(f* P^i'^? ^^^^ ^^^o ^ letter from Boston that D'Estaing could 
not return as soon as he expected. It was therefore re- 
solved, in a council of officers, to leave the island. The 
heavy baggage and stores were sent off tlirough the day, 
while tents were pitched in sight of the enemy, and the 
troops were employed in fortifying the camp as if for i^er- 
manent occupation. All day a ceaseless cannonade was 
kept up on both sides. At dark the tents were struck, 
the light baggage and the troops passed down, and before 
midnight the main army had crossed the ferry to Tiverton. 
Tlie Providence regiment, as being the best boatmen, 
were employed in rowing them over. Lafayette returned 
that night, and was greatly mortified at having failed to 
be present at the battle. He had made great eff'orts to 
arrive in season, having ridden from Boston, a distance of 
nearly seventy miles, in six and a half hours. Under his 
supervision the pickets and covering parties w^ere now 
brought off without the loss of the smallest article of 
baggage, although exposed to the constant fire of the 



enemy, from wliicli Sullivan's Life Guards, who brought CITAP. 
up the rear, suffered rather severely. The retreat was 
not only skilfully conducted, but admirably timed, for 1778. 
early the next morning the British fleet, with the army of ^"^'* 
Sir Henry Clinton, was seen off Newport, from Tiverton 31. 

The great dissatisfaction expressed by the American 
officers at the departure of the Count D'Estaing, gave 
much uneasiness to Washington and was highly displeas- 
ing to Lafayette. To soothe the feelings of the latter, 
"Washington addressed him a kind letter from the camp ^^P** 
at White Plains, and also w^rote to Generals Sullivan and 
Greene to use their influence in allaying the excitement.^ 
The General Assembly, which met three days after the ^' 
retreat, took no notice of this afl'air, nor indeed of the 
battle. Sullivan's army was now reduced to twelve hun- 
dred continental and two thousand State troops, besides 
some militia whose term of service was about to expire, 
while that of the enemy, just reinforced, numbered nearly 
eleven thousand. In this situation he wrote to Gov. 
Trumbull for further aid, as an attack on Providence was 4. 
expected. But the enemy employed their force in a 
difl'erent direction. A fleet of forty ships and transports 
sailed for New Bedford, and landing four thousand troops, 
burnt that town and part of Fairliaven, with a great 5. 
amount of shipping at the wharves. 

The thanks of Congress were voted to Gen. Sullivan 9. 
and his army for their gallantry in the late battle, and 
their conduct in the retreat, and Major Morris, the aide- 
de-camp who carried Sullivan's despatch to Philadelphia, 
was made a lieutenant-colonel. The body guard of Gen. 
Sullivan, selected from the State brigade, received promo- 10* 
tion from him for their behavior in covering the retreat."^ 

^ These letters are printed in "Spirit of '76," pp. 333-6. 

^ Aaron Mann, who commanded them on that occasion was made cap- 
tain, Levi Hoppin 1st heutenant, George Potter 2d Heutenant, and John 
Westcott ensign, in General Orders, issued September 10, 1778. They 




CHAP. The tlianks of Gen. AYasliington to the officers and men 
■^^g' engaged in the battle were also communicated in general 
— , — orders. 

Sept. rj^Yie arrival of Admiral Byron at Newport, with a part 
of the new squadron destined to operate against America, 
produced several changes. Soon afterwards Lord Howe 
returned to England, and Sir Robert -Pigot, leaving the 
command of the army on Rhode-island once more in the 
hands of Gen. Prescott, also went home. 

A daring enterprise, attempted by Major Silas Talbot, 
added to the fame already acquired by this amphibious 
officer. By land or sea he was ever ready to serve his 
country, and by his brilliant deeds uj^on both elements, 
proved himself to be equally at home on either. The 
east passage was blockaded by the Pigot galley, a stout 
vessel of two hundred tons, armed with eight twelve- 
pounders, defended by strong boarding-nettings, and hav- 
ing a crew of forty -five men. Talbot determined to take 
lier. In a small sloop called the Hawk, equipped with 
two three-pounders and a corps of sixty men, under Lieu- 
tenant Baker, selected from the troops then quartered in 
Providence, he embarked on his perilous expedition. A 
2g headwind detained him the first night in the river, but 
the next day he passed in safety the British battery at 
Bristol Ferry, and anchored in Mount Hope Bay to await 
2^ a favorable wind. The following day he proceeded alone 
to Little Compton to reconnoitre, and finding tlie Pigot 
armed at all points, he obtained fifteen more men under 
Lieutenant William Helme of Topliam's reigiment. The 
28. next night being very dark, and the wind favorable, they 
made sail until near the fort at Fogland Ferry, where 
they lowered sail and silently drifted with, the tide, under 
bare poles, past the battery. It was so dark that they 

were commissioned by resolve of the Council of War, December 7, to bear 
date from October 23. The corps was known as Sullivan's Life Guards, 
and was selected by Lafayette to cover the rearguard in the retreat, on the 
night of August 30, 1778. 

Talbot's capture of the pigot galley. 


had to send out a boat with muffled oars to find tlie ii;al- CIIAP. 


ley. This done they crowded sail and bore down upon 
the enemy. A volley of musketry greeted their approach, 1778. 
and was answered by a discharge of small arms from the 
Hawk ; but before the Pigot could bring her cannon to 
bear, the jibboom of the Hawk tore through the nettings 
and caught in the foreslirouds. Lieutenant Ilelme, fol- 
lowed by his command, ran along the bowsprit, and 
boarded the enemy. Iler crew w^ere driven below, the 
commander alone lighting gallantly on deck. The galley 
was taken without the loss of a man on either side, and 
the Hawk with her prize bore away for Stonington. For 
this gallant act. Congress made Talbot a lieutenant-colonel. 14, * 

The Assembly, then in session, passed a vote of thanks Oct. 
to the officers and men of the expedition.' A tax of thirty 
thousand pounds was assessed, and a new estimate of tax- 
able property in the State w^as ordered to be made. 
Another act for the relief of the poor in Newport was 
passed, providing for their settlement and support in the 
different towns. The scarcity of provisions, owing to the 
protracted military operations in the State, had become 
so distressing, that Gov. Greene, by vote of the Assembly, 
wrote to Connecticut requesting that the embargo there ^l* 
existing upon all articles of food, might be so far removed, 
as to allow of their exportation to Khode Island. The 
conduct of engrossers and forestallers," as they were 
termed, or speculators, as they styled themselves, in buy- 
ing up necessary articles of every kind, especially food 
and clothing, for private gain, induced Congress to issue Nor. 
a circular to all the States, calling for legislative action 
upon the subject. 

The arrival of Admiral Byron with twelve ships-of-the- 13. 

^ A few weeks later, the Pigot was purchased by Government, at the 
suggestion of General Sullivan, to be used as a guard ship in Providence 
river, where she arrived December 1. Captain Jeremiah Clarke was ap- 
pointed to the command ; Benjamin Cozzens and Joseph Gardner, lieuten- 

VOL. II. — 64 



CHAP, line at Xewj^ort, after an unsuccessful cruise for the French 
fleet off Boston, caused some alarm. Thej remained for 

1778. one month to refit, and then sailed for the South, whither 
the war was now transferred. 

Another terrible storm, more severe than that which 

12- had disabled the contending squadrons in August, caused 
great disaster on sea and shore. The depth of the snow, and 
the intensity of the cold, was unparalleled in this vicinity. 
Sentinels were frozen at their posts, or stifled bj the 
whirling snow, and so many Hessians perished from cold 
and exposure on that dreadful night in Newport, that this 
gale was long known as " the Hessian storm." 

Another exploit, although not comparable to that of 
Talbot, was performed in the east passage by Lieut. 

17. Chapin, of Col. Sherburne's regiment. With six men in a 
whale boat, he captured a brig bound to New York, 
having first driven the crew into the rigging. The prison- 
ers, among whom was the wife of Sir Guy Johnston, were 
landed at Seaconnet. 

28. The Assembly voted swords to Lieut.-Col. Talbot, and 
to Lieut. Helme for their gallant capture of the Pigot. 

30. A day of thanksgiving was held at the close of the year, 
by recommendation of Congress. An act for supplying 
the army with forage, fuel, horses, and other necessaries, 
enabling the military oflftcers, through the medium of the 
civil power, to seize upon any such articles, was imme- 

1779, diately found to be so impolitic in its purpose, and so 

Jan. difiicult of execution, that Gen. Cornell and other ofticers 

urged the governor to convene a special session for its re- 
peal. This was done, and at the same time an appropria- 
tion of five hundred ]Dounds was made for the relief of the 
poor at Newport. The deplorable condition of the State 
21. was represented in a touching letter from Gov. Greene to 
the Assembly of Connecticut. "The most obdurate 
heart," he writes, would relent to see old age and child- 
hood, from comfortable circumstances reduced to the 
necessity of begging for a morsel of bread." Two thou- 



sand persons driven from Illiode-island were scattered chap. 
about, homeless and penniless tlirougli the State, but 
chiefly in Providence, dependent upon public or private 1779. 
charity. Deputy-Governor Bowen, and President Man- 
ning were sent to represent the case to the Assembly of 
Connecticut, and obtain leave to purchase grain in their 
behalf, while others were to solicit donations. A memo- 
rial to Congress for an abatement of a portion of the con- 
tinental tax assigned to Pliode Island was also prepared, 
and noble was the response to both of these appeals. The 
Connecticut legislature allowed seven thousand bushels 
of grain to be exported to Rhode Island, and recommend- 
ed a prompt and liberal contribution to be made through- 
out their State for the relief of the sufferers. Within two 
months, donations amounting to five hundred bushels of 
grain, and four thousand three hundred pounds in money 
were collected in that State. This noble liberality was 
imitated by the far South through the action of Congress. Feb 
A resolution was passed, requesting the States of Connec- ^' 
ticut and New York to repeal their embargo upon bread 
stuffs for the benefit of Rhode Island, and a few weeks 
later the State was relieved from fifty thousand dollars. Mar 
being one-sixth of her allotted quota of the continental ^* 
tax, which was generously assumed by the State of South 
Carolina, with the consent of her delegates. This release 
was virtually an admission by Congress, of the self-evident 
truth that Rhode Island had done more than her part, and 
suffered more than her share in the common cause ; but 
the assumption by South Carolina was no less an act of 
generous patriotism on her part, worthy of the land of 
the Rutledges, of Moultrie, and of Marion. 

Although no formidable invasion was again attempted 
by the enemy in Rhode Island, yet predatory incursions 
by detached parties became more frequent and annoying 
than ever, and continued so till the island was evacuated. 
In one of these a small party landed in Xorth Kingstown -p^^ 
by night, and carried ofi' a great quantity of sheep, cattle, i. ' 



CHAP, and corn. Tlie Assembly therefore advised Gen. Sulli- 
van to purchase another vessel, in addition to the Pigot, 

1779. for the defence of the bay. They passed a vote of thanks 
to him for his conduct since taking command of the army 
in this State. Tl>ey also assessed two very heavy taxes, 
one of ninety tliousand pounds for Continental use, and 
another of sixty thousand pounds for State purposes, and 
took measures to sustain for another year, the brigade of 
fifteen hundred men whose term of enlistment w^as about 
to expire.' Complaints of unequal representation, first 
embodied in the Scituate instructions,"' had become so fre- 
quent, that the Assembly debated a plan to remedy the 
evil, and reduce the number of deputies so as not to exceed 
two from each town, but the measure failed by a non-con- 
28- currence of the two houses.^ 

•^r^j. A second newspaper, styled the " American Journal 
and General Advertiser," was commenced in Providence 
by Southw^ick and Wheeler. It was printed every Thurs- 
day and continued about five years. 
9. To enlist the new^ brigade, money w^as needed, but the 

treasury was empty. William Phodes, sheriff of Provi- 
dence, was sent to Connecticut to obtain a loan of twelve 
thousand pounds for this purpose. The money was hired 
for one month. The Springfield compact was not kept by 
the other New England States. There were now but two 
thousand Continental troops in Pliode Island, while the 

11. British force was upwards of six thousand. Letters were 

' The officers were the same as now commanded the brigade, with some 
transpositions since the former organization. Brigadier General Cornell 
commanded the brigade. The officers of the artillery regiment were Colonel 
Robert Elliot ; Josiah Flagg, lieutenant-colonel. Of the 1st battalion of in-